Thursday, February 2, 2017

How to Mask Theft of Hard-Won Rights

His gift for ventriloquism is serving Alt-Pres. Bannon well.  As inanities spew from the maw of his lap dummy, Donnie, attention is diverted from his real purposes and nefarious doings.

Occasionally, however, documents leak out from behind the curtain that provide a glimpse into how this new regime thinks and what it actually intends to do.

Such was the case this week with the Bannon-Trump plan to destroy forever the Jeffersonian wall of separation between church and state.

Alt-Pres. Bannon
A draft executive order called “Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom” went public thanks to The Investigative Fund and The Nation magazine.  The title is alternative-factspeak for bigotry, discrimination and Christo-fascism.

The paper covers “any organization, including closely held for-profit corporations.”  It legalizes discriminatory practices “when providing social services, education or health care; earning a living, seeking a job or employing others; receiving government grants or contracts; or otherwise participating in the marketplace, the public square or interfacing with Federal, State or local governments.”

The idea is to erase all the recent progress involving reproductive rights, freedom of sexual orientation, fair employment practices or equal opportunity in housing — just for starters.  It opens the door for churches and pseudo-religious organizations to raise unregulated  hell in politics by in effect repealing the 1954 Johnson Amendment and demonically twisting the 1970- Supreme Court ruling in Walz vs. Tax Commission of the City of New York.

Currently, churches stand to lose their tax-exempt status if they blatantly indulge in political activity.  A few years ago, hundreds of people in our heavily-Catholic area received robocalls from a male voice who called himself “Bishop Ramirez” warning them that they would be excommunicated if they voted for a particular candidate.  The real Bishop Ramirez wet his cassock, rushing to deny that the robocaller was he.  “We don’t want to lose our tax exemption,” he declared.

The Bannon-Trump draft order would specifically protect the tax-exempt status “of any organization that believes, speaks, or acts (or declines to act) in accordance with the belief that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, sexual relations are properly reserved for such a marriage, male and female and their equivalents refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy, physiology, or genetics at or before birth, and that human life begins at conception and merits protection at all stages of life.”

It’s doubtful that this was an authorized leak from the Bannon-Trump White House.  The Alt-Pres. isn’t one to tip his hand to likely opponents.  There would be plenty of opponents to such an egregious assault on the establishment clause and years of settled law.

But once the leak was out, the master ventriloquist had Donnie go forth to boast about how tough he had talked on the telephone  to a couple of foreign leaders. Having used the tactic in the campaign, Alt-Pres. Bannon knows it plays well with the naive nerds who put them in the White House.  And so Donnie insulted the president of Mexico by threatening to send troops across the border, and rudely hung up the phone after spewing crudities to the prime minister of Australia.

Every ventriloquist knows that the dummy can get by with anything.

A Once and Never-Again Democracy

Probably the best, and certainly the most popular, definition of democracy was given by Lincoln: “government of the people, by the people and for the people.”

By that definition, democracy has been dying a slow death in the United States of America for decades, and now, in the Divided States of Trumpistan, it does not exist and never has.

The latest proof is in one of those divided states, South Dakota.  It voted heavily for the Bannon-Trump regime, but it also voted, by a 51 percent majority, for the South Dakota Accountability and Anti-Corruption Act.  The act would have ended South Dakota's status as the only state that allowed lobbyists to give politicians unlimited and undisclosed gifts, also known as bribes.

But South Dakota’s legislature, in one of history’s greatest piss-on-the-people acts, voted yesterday to repeal the law enacted by the people.

So much for “government by the people.”

Other accepted definitions of democracy assume that a nation-state so governed has a viable political left, center and right.

In the Divided States of Trumistan, there is no left and no true center.  

Sen. Warner
The Senate demonstrated this phenomenon yesterday when it approved the CEO of the most profitable corporation in the history of money — Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson — to be Secretary of State.  The “yes” vote included three members of what is mistakenly called “the opposition party,” that is, the Democrats. They are Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Mark Warner of Virginia.  All are right of center politically.

Heitkamp doesn’t even identify as a “Democrat.”  Her party affiliation is with something called the “Democratic-Nonpartisan League Party.”  She’s in favor of guns, gas and oil drilling and Exxon.  Manchin  favors firearms, female serfdom and Exxon.  Warner is the closest to the center of the three; his pro-Exxon vote was especially disappointing to Democrats who hoped that, as vice-chair of the Senate Democratic caucus, he might become a pillar of the effort to filibuster the regime’s far right-wing nominee to the Supreme Court.

“Loyal opposition” is in the noblest traditions of democratic government.  While deeply rooted forms of loyalty exist in the Divided States of Trumpistan, its operational model would be better termed “cronyism.”  The other half of the phrase, “opposition,” is feeble at best, and generally spineless.

Neither Manchin nor Heitkamp will join the filibuster effort against the Bannon-Donnie SCOTUS nominee.  Warner will probably support that nominee as well.

The nominee — Circuit Court Judge Neil Gorusch — has been a dangerous ideologue since prep school, where he railed against liberal faculty members and founded a “Fascism Forever” club.  He is young — not yet 50 — and so would be in position for decades to impose upon the country his views in favor of widespread gun ownership, inferiority of women, destruction of the establishment clause in the name of “religious freedom,” and other legacies of his idol, the late Antonin Scalia.

A Supreme Court with a majority led by Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorusch would assure the removal of the judiciary as a balance against the despotic chief executive embodied in Alt-Pres. Bannon and his lap dummy, Donnie.   With people like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell keeping the right-wing Congress in lock step, the descent into a fascist dictatorship would be absolute and irreversible.

Sieg Heil.