This national election seems pivotal.
The survival of our democracy as we know it could easily depend on Democrats controlling the House. Fortunately, our own Xochitl Torres-Small is a dream candidate for Congress: a smart and levelheaded young water lawyer.
I understand the feeling that all politicians are crooked, big corporations really run everything, and own the politicians, and our democracy died long ago.
Financially, we're speeding merrily toward a cliff. Trump and the Republicans, notably through tax changes, have significantly exacerbated two major problems: inequality and debt. The breaks mostly helped the rich. Profits are up, but not wages. We will soon be crippled by interest payments. Military officials say the huge increase in our debt weakens our national security, dangerously.
Administratively, Trump has no knowledge or interest in much of what goes on. Positions consistently go unfilled, while top posts go to incompetent and/or dishonest pals. Probably no president has ever seen so many appointees and advisers resign in disgrace or plead guilty to crimes in his first two years. Even if Trump left now it'd take years to get some offices functional again.
The dysfunctional White House sideshow distracts us from serious problems.
He's filling our courts with extremists who meet an ideological test but sometimes haven't even tried a case. They're appointed for life. Many are young.
He loathes our democratic allies, but loves autocrats like Putin and Kim Jong-un. Even some Republican leaders are worried (but don't dare speak up).
Climate change? It's too late to prevent warming, but we could try to limit the damage some. Most nations see the urgent need for action. Trump removed us from the Paris Agreement. He's undone or weakened existing environmental regulations. He repealed the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, rolling back greenhouse gas rules for cars and easing methane pollution standards for oil and natural gas drillers. The U.N. recently reported that it's worse than we thought. Trump says “look at the source.” (U.N. members laughed at him when he bragged to them about his greatness.)
Even his supporters recognize Trump lies constantly. Maybe all politicians lie some; but Trump wallows in his dishonesty. One recent example: “As a candidate, I promised that we would protect coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions and create new health care insurance options that would lower premiums. I have kept that promise, and we are now seeing health insurance premiums coming down.” Actually, Trump made this promise, but broke it. He supported Republican efforts to weaken protections for folks with pre-existing conditions. The Obamacare provision letting people with pre-existing health conditions buy insurance has survived despite Trump. Premiums have kept rising. Experts say that without Trump’s moves to weaken the Affordable Care Act, premiums would be even lower in many states.
Russian hackers affected the 2016 election. Trump's people, including his son, met with Russians about the election. Several have admitted to lying about their Russian contacts and those meetings. Yes, Robert Mueller is investigating. But his report goes to the Administration. Trump and his AG could keep it secret if it's ugly. A Republican House might not demand to see it. A Democratic House would.
Xochi's a native Las Crucen who cares about us and our desert home – and has the skills to be effective. Her opponent speaks well and seems a good person -- but fully wholeheartedly Trump's agenda. The choice is clear. Please vote.
[This was a particularly hard column to write because theirs just too much material. The list of Trump pals in jail or facing jail or rolling over, and the list of Trump appointees who've misused funds or broken laws or otherwise disgraced themselves is extraordinarily long. (Two years into Obama's Administration, I'll bet no appointee or adviser had been convicted of a felony. ) And both lists are exceeded by the list of Trump appointees who are plainly incompetent, inclined to destroy the departments they head, or otherwise appalling.]
[I think for many of us Trump's election startled and dismayed us. It felt rather like someone had died. Then, as one does with a death, we resolved to live with it, and began to see that we could; and, since this was not a death, many who hadn't been paying much attention resolved to get more deeply involved in resisting the worst excesses as best we could. And some days we thought it couldn't be as bad as it seemed like it would be. But it could. Now it has been. In too many ways to fit into 570 words. The saddest part is that so relatively few Trump supporters have seen him very clearly. Although many like aspects of his program -- border wall, anti-choice, ignoring gun problems, even ignoring climate change -- they can't have wanted a chief executive who idolizes Putin and is so bizarre that his own people hide things from him or start talking about the 25th Amendment.]
[Below is a random list of other recent moments, not nearly the most important problems, but individually pretty appalling. None, perhaps, is as serious as Trump's tweets trying openly to obstruct justice; his complete disdain for the environment; his vicious attacks on a free press; and dozens of other things we're learning to take for granted. But they further symptomize a mind-set. I'm trying to urge people who share my concerns to get out and vote for Xochi Torres-Small for Congress. I Yvette Herrell Friday and interviewed her for an hour. Couldn't help liking her. She's a nice person, I think; but on all things Trump, she supported him. I'd be voting for Xochi in any case, because I think she's a superb candidate; but what adds the extra urgency is that she'll help keep an eye on Mr. Trump, whereas I fear Ms. Herrell will cast a blind eye to Trumpian conduct and support the dangerous policies discussed in the column.]
[Even U.S. citizens who consider adultery a sin, and gay folks sinners and somehow imagine freedom of marriage undermines their own heterosexual marriages don't want to kill all the gays. But some countries do. Adulterers, homosexuals, and blasphemers can be executed. A United Nations resolution condemned "the imposition of the death penalty as a sanction for specific forms of conduct, such as apostasy, blasphemy, adultery, and consensual same-sex relations." Sounds good to me. Shit, I could be executed for my youthful dalliances with married women or even my loss of adulterous conduct, The resolution passed handily; but the U.S. was one of just 13 countries that voted against that resolution. As did Iraq and Saudie Arabia. Reflecting on it this morning, I recall that last night, at the SWEC Gala, I sat at table with one heterosexual couple I've known for 50 years and some gay couples, acquaintances or close friends. They were people who do a lot of good for their adopted community, and/or do creative work; one's a retired minister; they are long-time couples who love and care for each other; and I'm appalled to recognize that under Trump we can't even condemn laws that would let the police come and take them and execute them, if we were in some other country.]
[Trump's National Park Service Director now wants to inhibit free speech by charging fees for protesters who assemble on the mall -- and would close much of the sidewalk north of the White House to protestors. Public comments are due Monday. This would prevent spontaneous protests.
The fees are clearly aimed at curtailing protests. But protests are a central feature of our culture. Remember the Boston Tea Party? Martin Luther King's 'I have a Dream!' speech? (I have a nightmare.) The excuse for the fees is to save money. They say cleaning up after the 2012 Occupy encampment cost $500,000 or something; but Trump wanted to spend tens of millions on a military parade, to stroke his ego and show our military might. In any sane value system, we need both a strong military and a strong freedom of expression policy; but we don't need to spend on a military parade enough money to clean up all the protests from now until 2099.]
[The Consumer Protection Bureau just appointed a high official who had (anonymously, suggesting he knew his views would be received as they now have been) questioned whether racist hate crimes were really hate crimes and suggested that using the word "Nigger" isn't necessarily racist. Well, that's a tough view to depend, although as a private citizen he's certainly entitled to hold it; but should he be making decisions about consumers, many of whom are not white Anglo-Saxons?]
[Whether you believed Christine Blasey Ford, Brett Kavanugh, or neither, or didn't know what to think after they spoke so passionately, the U.S. Supreme Court is important to all of us. Kavanaugh demonstrably lied about his drinking, and (stupidly, I think) perjured himself by pretending several well-known sexual references in his prep school yearbook were each something else. Classmates said otherwise. The FBI investigation was so strictly limited -- by Mr. Trump -- as to be meaningless. That's one more unnecessary way to undermine the Court's credibility. Certainly Trump could have found an equally conservative nominee who had a more judicial temperament, didn't perjure himself so obviously about little things, and hadn't -- perhaps -- mistreated women. Or the FBI could have investigated fully and perhaps cleared Kavanaugh.]
[The bottom line is that Trump is a dangerous buffoon being used by the wealthy and by conservatives, who figure his personal popularity with his base can help them get through policies that will hurt most of us. Sounds familiar. Conservative German industrialist and politicians saw Hitler that way. Fortunately, Trump does not have the deep, well-considered program of hatred and bitterness Hitler had. He's an almost childish narcissist, and a casual racist; but seems highly unlikely to embark on a program like Hitler's, despite the neo-Nazis' passionate support of him; but he's doing us serious harm every day, in dozens of ways, and we need folks in Congress who'll function as a loyal opposition, not folks who'll rubber-stamp his every move.]