By CC Campbell-Rock
As the machinations of a rogue, out of control Donald J. Trump, Sr. drags on, media pundits are rushing to report on the distracting abominations that Trump throws at them for coverage, like the paper towels he tossed to grieving, devastating Puerto Ricans in the wake of Hurricane Marie. Flying under the radar and getting less coverage, is the fact that Trump is destroying the U.S. Constitution and tearing up the safety net that undergirds the lives of everyday Americans.
While Trump continued to abuse the office of President last week by retributively punishing purple heart recipient Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman, his twin brother Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, and EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland, two of whom he fired last week for telling the truth and one for no good reason, major corporate news outlet are failing to adequately report on Trump’s ongoing attempts to rob the American people of hard-earned benefits and constitutional rights.
Rachel Maddow, Joy Ann Reid and Ari Melber on MSNBC and The New York Times and Washington Post investigative journalists deserve much credit for breaking such stories, but too many media outlets are ignoring Trump’s destruction of the rule of law, his attempts to destroy the lives of ordinary Americans, and his grifting of taxpayers’ dollars.
As eyebrow-raising as the terminations were, firing people is what catapulted Trump to prominence. As host of a reality TV show, The Apprentice, Trump set himself up as the judge, jury, and terminator of contestants who competed to work at Trump Enterprises. Seemingly, the show is the template for Trump’s White House operations.
The only surprise about Trump’s running the White House like he runs Trump Enterprises—which has all the hallmarks of a conspiratorial mafia cabal– where secrecy reigns and clandestine deals nets him pockets of cash—is that he is using the American treasury as his personal piggy bank and cutting back on ordinary Americans’ benefits to pay for his self-enrichment.
No one is naïve enough to believe that politicians don’t get rich off lobbyists and others who buy access and favorable legislation. That’s as American as apple pie.
But Americans do expect elected officials to, at the very least, do the people’s work. Under Trump, none of that is happening. When Republican Senator Mitch McConnell (who successfully led the obstruction of almost all of President Obama’s policies, save Obamacare, thanks to three brave Republicans) said the Republican-led Senate was coordinating the Impeachment trial with the White House, he confirmed the concession of his party’s senatorial powers to Trump. McConnell showed no shame in orchestrating the Republicans’ wholesale conspiracy to acquit Trump of impeachment charges, weeks before the Senate Impeachment trial started.
Trump not only refused to answer lawful Congressional subpoenas, but he also refused to turn over documents or allow anyone from the Administration to testify during the impeachment trial.
McConnell and the Republicans had no problem in acquitting Trump for abuses of power that involved asking for foreign interference in the U.S. electoral process; hollowing out government departments by either leaving innumerable vacancies or firing those who would not join him in criminal behaviors like ignoring lawful subpoenas; arguing in court that Trump can’t be investigated or indicted, even if he shoots someone on Fifth Avenue; caging and jailing migrant families on the southern border; expanding Trump’s Muslim ban to include African countries; trying to kill Obamacare and overturn Roe v Wade; opposing voting rights legislation; fighting in the courts to take away healthcare from people with preexisting conditions; cutting Medicaid benefits and Medicare coverage and food stamps; making Secret Service agents pay $650 a night to stay at his resorts when they are protecting him; charging the military exorbitant rates to stay at Trump properties abroad; hosting foreign governments at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. (which the federal government owns and leases to Trump, who now wants to sell the lease to a foreign government, which is illegal).
The Republicans have also turned a blind eye to Trump’s nepotism in hiring his own children and dispatching them across the globe on money-wrangling missions. Jared Kushner, a senior advisor and Trump’s son-in-law, got a billion-dollar bailout for his debt-ridden office tower at 666 Fifth Avenue, from a company whose second largest investor is Qatar. Daughter Ivanka Trump, a senior advisor and Jared’s wife, got $100 million from the Saudis to fund a women’s entrepreneur investment project, and no telling what kind of money dealings Donald Jr. and Eric are swinging globally. All of them are protected by Secret Service members, on the taxpayer’s dime.
But there’s more: Trump is fighting in the courts to keep his tax returns secret and to keep the government from discovering and charging him for violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause.
Trump is also cheating American people out due process and impartial justice by stacking the federal courts with hyper conservative, partisan Republican judges. Thus far, he has appointed over 200 federal judges, some with no judicial experience.
In New Orleans, which houses the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, known for its racist rulings, Trump has appointed five federal judges to the bench in just three short years. Of the 16 sitting judges, 11 are Republicans.
America, we’re in trouble.
During an appearance on CNBC, Trump was asked if restructuring entitlement programs would ever be on his plate. “At some point, they will be,” Trump said last month, while attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Obviously, the task of informing Americans (particularly black Americans and other Americans of color) that their Constitutional rights and hard-earned benefits are in jeopardy, is falling in the laps of grassroots organizations and the small contingency of woke media analysts, who are crying out in the wilderness.
Marcela Howell, the founder and president of In Our Own Voice: The National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda said the Trump Administration’s Medicaid overhaul will have “severe and long-lasting consequences” on those who need access to healthcare services, “especially Black women and their families.”
“Trump has opened the door for states to further limit access to health care and to purge people from the Medicaid program. The states likely to do this are the red states where health care disparities already endanger Black women’s lives. We know from experience that Black maternal health improves with expanded access to care, including Medicaid expansion.”
Howell urged voters to hold Trump and state elected officials accountable for “any and all efforts to cut Medicaid.”
“The White House’s 2020 budget proposal called for a $1.5 trillion cut in Medicaid spending over a decade, and a $25 billion cut in spending on Social Security, with $10 billion of that sum coming directly out of benefits for the disabled,” according to an article in the Intelligence section of New York Magazine. “The Trump administration is finalizing a plan to let states convert a chunk of Medicaid funding to block grants, even as officials remain divided over how to sell the controversial change to the safety net health program.”
The article’s writer criticized mainstream’s media’s coverage of Trump’s plan. “Trump’s support for entitlement cuts is a matter of fact, not “perception.” To the extent that the “corporate media” failed to accurately convey Trump’s position on entitlements this week, it did not do so by unfairly interpreting his remarks on the subject, but by obscuring his administration’s past and present actions on the issue.”
The American Prospect, a progressive non-profit, reported last week that the “Democratic House leadership quietly announced the introduction of a resolution of disapproval over the Trump administration’s proposed Medicaid block grant scheme, which would reduce or deny access to health care for millions of Americans. “
“The announcement came only a day after the rollout of the Medicaid block grant plan, which states could employ to cap total spending on a program that serves over 70 million Americans. Currently, Medicaid is open to all who are eligible—37 states and D.C. have expanded eligibility for Medicaid up to 138 percent of the poverty level, while the other 13 states have much lower thresholds.”
In December 2019, the Trump Administration wasted no time in opposing an amendment to the Voting Rights Act that would protect voters of color from the onslaught of voter suppression tactics employed by 23 states after the Supreme Court struck down portions of the VRA in 2013.
The Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019, (HR4) was sponsored by U.S. Representative Terri A. Sewell (D-AL) and 229 co-sponsors and passed by the democratic-led House by a 228-197 vote on December 6, 2019.
“The VRAA of 2019 responds to current conditions in voting today by restoring the full protections of the original, bipartisan Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was last reauthorized by Congress in 2006, but gutted by the Supreme Court in 2013.
“Following the Shelby County decision four years ago, several states passed sweeping voter suppression laws that disproportionately prevent minorities, the elderly, and the youth from voting. The bill (VRAA) provides the tools to address these discriminatory practices and seeks to protect all Americans’ right to vote.
“The Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019 creates a new coverage formula that applies to all states and hinges on a finding of repeated voting rights violations in the preceding 25 years,” according to a fact sheet on the legislation.
HR4 arrived in the Senate on December 9 and was immediately referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. It’s fair to assume that HR4 will die in the Republican-dominated Senate Judiciary Committee given that Senator Lindsey Graham, a Trump sycophant chairs that committee.
On December 19, the Trump Administration issued a statement opposing the legislation:
“The Administration opposes passage of H.R. 4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019. H.R. 4 would amend the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 by imposing a new coverage formula and transparency obligations on States and local jurisdictions regarding their elections. These amendments raise serious policy concerns because the Federal Government would be granted excessive control over State and local election practices.”
In opposing HR4, Trump sent a message, primarily to the southern states that rushed to pass voter suppression laws, that state’s rights trump the Supremacy Clause of the United States and that states are free to continue to enact voter suppression laws.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller warned Americans that the Russians, “as we speak,” are interfering in the upcoming election. Remember when Trump said, “Russia if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 missing emails,” and openly invited Russia to interfere in the 2016 Presidential Election?
The day after Mueller’s testimony, Trump called Ukrainian President Zelensky and said, “I want you to do us a favor, though,” setting his inevitable impeachment in motion. Before he was acquitted by his sycophants in the Senate, Trump was seen on national news confirming that the wanted Ukraine to interfere in the election and said China should investigate the Bidens too. At the time of this writing, reports are that Trump’s personal lawyer Guiliani is still crisscrossing the globe seeking dirt on the Bidens.
At the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, as Benjamin Franklin left Independence Hall on the final day of deliberation, “A lady asked Dr. Franklin, ‘Well Doctor what have we got, a republic or a monarchy? A republic replied the Doctor if you can keep it,” according to Dr. James McHenry, one of Maryland’s delegates to the Convention.
And that is the major threat we are now facing. Will America remain a democratic Republic or will Trump become a monarch. Trump showed his hand and his deepest desire when he mused publicly, “Wouldn’t it be great if I were president for life?”
Trump’s ongoing efforts to set himself up as a monarchial dictator, like the dictators he most admires: Russia President Vladimir Putin (serving his second six-year term), North Korea President Kim Jong-un, (North Korea is an isolated state, ruled by the Kim family dynasty), China President Xi Jinping (president for life), among others, is the gravest danger facing the United States’ and its people.
Trump is up for reelection. Americans will have to decide whether we will have a monarchy or a democratic Republic. We’ll know the answer on Tuesday, November 3, 2020.