Bill Knight column for Thursday, Friday or Saturday, Aug. 3, 4 or 5
So, call it another in a series of Distraction Actions.
The Oval Office Occupant encourages clashes between Scaramucci and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus; criticizes fellow Republicans Jeff Sessions and Congresswoman Lisa Murkowski; “fires” thousands of transgender troops without Pentagon input; threatens Special Counsel Robert Mueller if his assignment to investigate suspected collusion with Russia, wherever evidence leads him, touches on business records; and more. Trump’s outrageous speeches to Boy Scouts and police officers, his falsehoods and boasts, social faux pas and displays of ignorance, and a torrent of tweets that make Looney Tunes seem like Holy Writ all together can cause people to stop paying attention to the dangerous shenanigans that could directly affect us all.
If it’s intentional, the misdirection tries to trick us to focus elsewhere while extremists look to change not just the rules of the game, but the game itself.
If it’s not on purpose, intervention or impeachment seems reasonable.
Media may share some of the blame, but shocking comments or incidents, significant facts unearthed or political strategies employed shouldn’t be ignored. So, it’s up to regular Americans to notice what’s happening elsewhere.
In Washington – where Trump is challenging the Constitution and bullying those who don’t show the version of loyalty he craves – the administration’s targets are workers’ rights, health care, budget priorities, environmental protections, public education among various civic issues under attack.
Americans, especially workers, face a future with budget cuts jeopardizing government oversight; anti-union nominees for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the U.S. Labor Department; anti-union bills in Congress; and moves to reverse sensible executive orders and other regulations supporting workers.
The White House’s proposed federal budget slashes 20 percent from the Labor Department. On Capitol Hill, three bills affecting organized labor percolate through the building like painful gas bubbling through the belly. The Employee Rights Act rigs union-representation elections by treating employees who don’t cast ballots as “No” votes. The Employee Privacy Protection Act permits employers to keep employees’ contact information from unions during organizing drives. And the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act lengthens waiting periods that delay representation elections and lets companies gerrymander the composition of bargaining units eligible to vote.
“These bills are chock full of malicious intent to render elections absurdly undemocratic, strip workers of rights, take control of unions away from union members, drain union treasuries, and otherwise destroy labor unions," said Jody Calemine, General Counsel for the Communications Workers of America.
Throughout the U.S. Labor Department, at risk are modest reforms on overtime pay that increased the level after which employees are eligible for time-and-a-half pay (the first change in 12 years); a rule prohibiting companies from getting federal contracts if they’ve violated wage, labor or safety laws; requirements for law firms to disclose work they do for companies during unionizing drives; and the protection for workers and consumers against surrendering the right to a day in court as part of class-action suits through “forced arbitrations.”
Meanwhile, Trump’s nominee for Deputy Secretary of Labor, who supervises daily operations there, is Patrick Pizzella, who’s worked for Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist convicted of corruption, and the National Right To Work Committee.
At the NLRB, Trump nominees approved July 19 by the Republican-controlled Senate Labor Committee are William Emanuel, an owner of the Littler Mendelson law firm (which U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren [D-Mass.] called “a noted union-buster”) and Marvin Kaplan, ex-counsel to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, where he worked against the NLRB.
“As I look at your records, I see anti-union, anti-worker and even anti-NLRB stands,” said U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.).
Trump’s tweets, the bedlam and the question of collusion with Russia all interfere with regular Americans noticing sinister schemes, says author Noam Chomsky (“Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power”).
“While everything is focusing on that, the Paul Ryan Republicans – the most dangerous and savage group in the country – are busy implementing programs that they have been talking quietly about for years,” Chomsky said, “which have very simple principles. One, be sure to offer to the rich and powerful gifts beyond the dreams of avarice, and [two], kick everyone else in the face.
“The parts of the governmental structure that are beneficial to human beings and to future generations are being systematically destroyed, and with very little attention,” he added.
[PICTURED: Editorial cartoon by Mark Hurwitt, opednews.com.]