This Is Our Most Dangerously Retrograde Government in 150 Years
FROM ESQUIRE MAGAZINE
BY CHARLES P. PIERCE
JAN 24, 2017
I think it's time for someone to hire a deprogrammer for Sean Spicer. I don't think the cult he joined is very good for him. Over the weekend, of course, he pretty much melted down over the issue of how many people didn't show up for the inauguration of the president*. Then, on Monday, he held a briefing that looked far less like someone having a nervous breakdown and was praised fulsomely by some Washington journalists who must never be allowed to go out in public carrying their own money ever again.
Spicer was back behind the big podium again on Tuesday, and he was asked about the craven lie that his boss is spreading about how three million "illegals" voted in the 2016 election. The answer was, to say the least, spectacular. Via CNN:
"The President does believe that, I think he's stated that before, and stated his concern of voter fraud and people voting illegally during the campaign and continues to maintain that belief based on studies and evidence people have brought to him…[Trump] has believed that for a while based on studies and information he has."
Maybe it's time for Spicer to pass the time with a game of solitaire.
This is incredibly dangerous, of course, especially with Jefferson Beauregard Sessions preparing to sit his pale ass down in Bobby Kennedy's old chair at the Justice Department, and with John Gore, a lawyer whose track record shows a remarkable sweet tooth for laws upholding discrimination of all sorts, nominated to be Sessions's assistant AG for civil rights. The fact that the president* believes this nonsense, and that the press secretary is willing to marshal such a lame excuse for it, leaves wide open the possibility that the Department of Justice likely will join the president* in his delusions, answering a fantasy with the cold reality of voter suppression.
There were other doings afoot on Tuesday, too. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, the administration's candidate to direct the Office of Management and Budget, went before a Senate committee and stated quite plainly that he still believes Social Security is "a Ponzi scheme" and that he and the administration will be coming for that, and for Medicare and Medicaid, too, no matter what candidate Trump may have said during the campaign.
(As a member of the South Carolina legislature, Mulvaney had voted in favor of a resolution that declared both Social Security and Medicare unconstitutional.)
Senator Debbie Stabenow, Democrat of Michigan, gave Mulvaney a chance to walk that back. Mulvaney passed.
"I wouldn't read too much into the description of it as a Ponzi scheme. It's simply describing to people how the cash flows."
Yes, when I describe cash flow, I always reach for the name of one of the great scams in American history.
At about the same time, Rep. Mike Pompeo, who once called America's torturers "patriots," and who once counseled active-duty military officers to disregard the lawful orders of the previous president, sailed through the Senate to become the new director of the CIA. Somewhat disgracefully, 14 Democratic senators voted for him, including such liberal stalwarts as Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and former vice-presidential candidate Tim Kaine. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York kept her record intact of being the only Democratic senator to vote against all of the administration's nominees—which I think means that curious Iowans can expect to see a lot of Senator Gillibrand over the next couple years.
But there is no question that, given the statements made by candidate Trump during the campaign, and given Pompeo's track record, the government of the United States likely will be back in the torture business soon.
Elsewhere, there is some seriously strange activity within the federal bureaucracy. Virtual gag orders have descended on the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Agriculture. The administration has nominated Sonny Perdue, the Confederate-flag-loving former governor of Georgia, to be the Secretary of Agriculture. Perdue's past statements on the climate crisis seem to fit in nicely with the information on that subject that the new government is clearly trying to bury at the EPA. From National Review:
Conservatives throw up their hands when some on the left or in the mainstream media explain every deviation in weather as a consequence of climate change. Climate change, we're told, is responsible for heavy rains and drought alike. Whether temperatures are unseasonably low or high, global warming is the culprit. Snowstorms, hurricanes, and tornadoes have been around since the beginning of time, but now they want us to accept that all of it is the result of climate change. It's become a running joke among the public, and liberals have lost all credibility when it comes to climate science because their arguments have become so ridiculous and so obviously disconnected from reality.
It's been fun to point and laugh at the new administration. It's been fun to mock Sean Spicer's obvious discomfort at the podium, and to sit in awe at the obvious infighting within the White House this early in the game. But, while we're doing that, slowly and steadily, an actual government has been forming, and it is the most dangerously retrograde government that our system has produced in at least the past 150 years. It is secretive and it is resistant to any empirical information that it does not want to hear. It is grotesquely anti-science. It seeks to roll back progressive achievements dating back to Teddy Roosevelt and it has the power to do so, even if it is in its own bungling way. And it really hasn't gotten rolling yet.
Oh, yeah, they may have picked a replacement for Antonin Scalia. His name is Neil Gorsuch. His mother, Anne Gorsuch, was the woman that the Reagan administration selected to destroy the EPA from within, a job that Scott Pruitt has been handed by the current administration. Anne Gorsuch eventually was held in contempt of Congress. The game plan never changes, no matter how incompetent the quarterback may seem.