Speakout is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. Speakout articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.
Disaster struck when the Senate confirmed the controversial Trump Secretary of Education nominee, billionaire Betsy DeVos. With the Senate deadlocked at 50-50, Vice President Mike Pence stepped in to cast the tie-breaking vote confirming her nomination. During the Senate hearing, senators questioned the candidate about her qualifications to serve as secretary of education. Although DeVos admitted that neither she nor her children had ever attended public schools, she believed she was qualified for the post nonetheless. Even more embarrassing was the fact that she lacked basic understanding of key education laws.
"Alternative Facts." "The media is the opposition party." "National Day of Patriotic Devotion." Short poignant phrases that very well could have been written by an ailing Eric Arthur Blair in a cottage on the Isle of Jura. It was the winter of 1946 and Blair, who had taken the pen name George Orwell 14 years prior, had sought a temporary reprieve from post-World War II London in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. The work that occupied his mind: 1984. Since the utterance of these short, distressing phrases by members of the Trump regime, sales of 1984 have boomed.
The American electorate has spoken and we are rejecting politicians funded by -- and representing -- the large donors and party insiders. Is either party listening? If "We the People" Want to Run It, We Have to Fund It. During the past election cycle, the American electorate demonstrated to both political parties that they no longer find tolerable the large donor campaign financing models. On the Republican side, reflecting the views of the donor base was an anathema to the voters to such extent that an "outsider" viewed as a "self-funder" was given the nod largely because he was not controlled by the Republican Party.
If all the climate-change denial coming from the Beltway these days tells us anything, it is that the politicians who espouse it are also likely to champion policies that further entrench social and economic inequalities, as well as undercut civil liberties. Let's look at a few examples.
Ever since the election of President Donald Trump, the world has been assessing every statement and tweet to weigh the potential policies that will come from this new administration. Climate scientists and renewable energy industry leaders are worried -- as are many others, especially about the impact human activities have on our climate. Trump's statements on climate change, renewables and China deserve scrutiny.
In a press release issued in December 2015, Donald Trump called for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on." He defended his proposal in speeches and interviews, arguing that stopping Muslims from entering the US was necessary to protect the homeland from terrorism. In one of his first acts in office, President Trump signed an executive order barring the entry of all Syrian refugees indefinitely and halting all other refugee admissions for 120 days. The order also prohibits the admission of non-citizens from seven majority Muslim nations for 90 days.
The insidiousness of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, is that it was governmentally sanctioned, with no one willing to take responsibility once it was fait accompli. While criminal charges have been filed, there have been no convictions. It represents a clear violation of environmental policy, including the 68-year history of governmental water protection by the Federal Water Pollution Act (1948) and Clean Water Act (1972), and can only be described as an act of terrorism.
In a 1921 article in Good Housekeeping by then Vice President-elect Calvin Coolidge, he described the "only acceptable immigrant" as "one who can justify our faith in man by a constant revelation of the divine purpose of the Creator." Those who were racially "divergent" who "do not mix or blend," the "idle," "the shiftless" and "the good-for-nothing" are not welcome. He asserted that "the retroactive immigrant is a danger," and that "he needs to be deported." This was at a time when new Americans were associated with extremist ideology and terrorism.
Much is being made of Donald Trump's recent statement that he respects Russian President Vladimir Putin. In an interview with Bill O'Reilly aired before the Super Bowl, Trump stated in response to O'Reilly's quip that Putin was a killer: "There are lots of killers. We've got a lot of killers. What, do you think your country's so innocent?" Besides the sin of equating US violence with another country's and, consequently, violating the unwritten law of "American exceptionalism," Trump seems merely to be guilty of telling the truth on this issue.
While the sanctuary campus movement gathers momentum, leadership at two Pennsylvania higher education institutions -- Bucknell University and Pennsylvania State University -- have chosen to hedge their bets by playing both sides of the issue. On the one hand, their presidents petitioned the incoming Trump administration to maintain the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, in order to appease student activists, progressive faculty and undocumented immigrants.