Bill Knight column for Thursday, Friday or Saturday, Jan. 26, 27 or 28, 2017
It’s not the size of the hands, it’s what they do. (As countless bluesmen sang, “It ain’t the meat, it’s the motion.”
Within minutes of Trump’s being sworn in, the White House scrubbed its web site of pages devoted to health care, Civil Rights, the National AIDS Policy, climate change, and more..
Within hours, Trump started reversing recent reform, signing an executive order letting the Department of Health and Human Services or any agency with legal authority to stop enforcing Affordable Care Act regulations.
“While President Trump may have promised a smooth transition, the Executive Order does the opposite, threatening disruption for health providers and patients,” said Leslie Dach, director of the Protect Our Care Coalition.
Republicans for years blasted President Obama’s executive orders, but they didn’t criticize Trump’s (much less put Obama’s actions into context. According to the University of California’s American Presidency Project, Obama’s 277 Executive Orders were the fewest since President Grover Cleveland in the 1800s – fewer than Republicans George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon or Dwight D. Eisenhower.)
Next, Trump blocked a Federal Housing Administration plan to cut mortgage fees for homeowners, a plan scheduled to start this week. And White House staff confirmed to The Hill newspaper that Trump plans to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities and privatize the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The cuts follow a blueprint from the conservative Heritage Foundation, which also calls for eliminating the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, the Economic Development Administration, the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, the Violence Against Women grants program, the Legal Services Corporation, and the Minority Business Development Agency, and reducing funds to the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources and Civil Rights divisions.
On Capitol Hill, the conservative-dominated House recently passed bills to de-fund women’s health-care facilities and weaken how standards are set. (The REINS Act could repeal every environmental, public health, consumer, labor, occupational safety, and civil rights standard by requiring such regulations to be approved by specific resolutions by Congress within 70 days.)
Also, the House approved a measure to repeal all of Obama’s regulatory actions since May, and in House Resolution 5 laid the foundation for giving away 640 million acres of national land.
Elsewhere, five state legislatures have introduced bills to make illegal peaceful protests like the Women’s Marches, plus picketing and concerted activities that Right-wing lawmakers call terrorism.
Michigan Republicans introduced an anti-picketing law that would increase penalties against protestors and would make it easier for businesses to sue them, and Republicans in Washington state proposed a bill to reclassify as a felony civil-disobedience protests deemed “economic terrorism.”
In Minnesota, a Republican bill seeks to dramatically increase fines for freeway protests and would allow prosecutors to seek a year of jail time for demonstrators blocking highways. In Iowa, a Republican lawmaker promises to introduce legislation to crack down on such protests, and North Dakota Republicans went a step farther, introducing a measure that would let motorists run over and kill any protester obstructing a highway (as long as a driver does so “accidentally”).
Authoritarianism looms. As Nobel Prize-winning musician Bob Dylan wrote in his song, “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”:
“I’m a-goin’ back out ‘fore the rain starts a-fallin’. I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest where the people are many and their hands are all empty, where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters, where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison, and the executioner’s face is always well hidden, where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten, where black is the color, where none is the number, and I’ll tell and speak it and think it and breathe it, … it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.”
In sunny Peoria Jan. 21, Women’s March speakers linked women’s rights to civil rights to human rights – as 2,000 demonstrators stood shoulder to shoulder, standing up for women and men, young and old, all races, faiths, sexual preferences and homes, workers, and the environment.
In Washington, the Women’s March’s cheering and chanting was heard from the White House, encircled by demonstrators a block away, but Trump and staff showed no sign they’d heard the furor.
But there and in the 673 such protests involving 4.7 million people from Springfield and Galesburg to coast to coast and around the world, the outpouring of determination was invigorating – recognizing that we’re all targeted as victims by the new authoritarians, and that we’re a great alliance in formation.
[PICTURED: Graphic from sott.net.]