“Combat” will be a weekly feature of the Bios Praktikos blog, rounding up news and salient articles. “Combat” takes its name from the underground newspaper of the French Resistance that was essential for communicating intelligence and keeping morale alive during the Nazi occupation ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Combat_(newspaper) ).
Ministry of Truth Weekly Round-Up
- Alternative Fact: The Federal Workforce has undergone a “dramatic expansion” in recent years.
- Actual Fact: Federal Workforce (2.79 million) is roughly the same as it was at the beginning of the Obama administration and the end of the Clinton Administration in absolute numbers. As a percentage of the total civilian workforce, it is at an all-time low, decreasing from 7% in WWII to less than 1.93% today.
- Alternative Fact: President Donald won the popular vote if you don’t count 3 to 5 million “illegal” voters.
- Actual Fact: There is no evidence for this claim and current analyses of election data reveal “virtually no confirmed cases” of voter fraud. The only verified case of voter fraud in 2016 I have seen is a woman who voted twice for Donald, having voted in her recently deceased husband’s name, as well as her own. While Donald has claimed this before, it is surprising to see him still insisting this the day after his inauguration and spending 10 minutes of his first meeting with congressional leaders ranting about it.
- Alternative Fact: The President’s “first day” was on Monday, January 23, three days after being sworn in.
- Actual Fact: The President’s first three days in office, from Friday, January 20, through Sunday, he accomplished very, very little. Apparently President Donald believes the President gets weekends off?
- Times summarizes all of President Donald’s actions on his actual first day in office.
- Reuters highlights the agenda for the first week of President Donald’s administration
- President Donald’s first action was an executive order to “freeze” regulations and “weaken” the Affordable Care Act. Since then, two republican senators have made a proposal that states should be able to stay in the “Obamacare” program if they choose to, stating that this executive order is “very confusing” (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-obamacare-idUSKBN1572AD).
- President Donald’s Administration has declared that they will “not allow access” for China to continue operations on islands in the South China Sea, and will “defend international territories.” Under President Obama, the US military conducted multiple operations to ensure freedom of the sea, such as navigating navy battleships through the waters surrounding the islands in question without acknowledging Chinese signals or outposts, but diplomacy and military behavior avoided explicit avowals of military intervention to stop China’s operations there. China has said that execution of Donald’s declaration will require him to “wage war” to bar access to the islands.
- Known as “the global gag rule,” it is “an executive order Monday barring US foreign aid from going to any nongovernmental organization (NGO) that either provides abortion services, or even discusses abortion with its patients as an option for family planning.”
- Trump is initiating “renegotiation” of NAFTA, which he has blamed for damaging the US labor market. Most economists have concluded that NAFTA’s economic effects were not damaging to the US economy, though the benefits may have not been very big either. Politically, NAFTA is an important agreement cementing the relationship of the US, Canada, and Mexico. Repealing this agreement would likely damage relations.
- One of the first announcements on President Donald’s White house website post is to repeal the “Climate Action Plan” and the “Water of the US rule.” The Climate Action Plan was legislation introduced by Obama in 2013 “to cut carbon pollution in the US, actions to get the country ready for the effects of climate change, and plans for how to lead international efforts to address global warming.” The “Waters of the US Rule” is an executive document released under the Obama administration in 2015 which defines what bodies of water are under the jurisdiction of the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, defining what bodies of water are thus subject to federal regulation (http://www.politico.com/story/2015/05/epa-waterways-wetlands-rule-118319)
- The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is officially dead in the water as President Donald formally withdraws the US. While the TPP has had critics on both the right and the left, Obama and its supporters saw it as critical to cementing the economic and political relationship of Pacific Ocean countries besides the People’s Republic of China. Without the TPP in place, many of these countries will likely feel more vulnerable to China’s economic, political, and military pressure.
- Economic Anxiety
- 52 Things you can do
- 25 things you can do
- The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington group is bringing a lawsuit against President Donald alleging his business investments represent a conflict of interest and violate the emoluments clause of the US Constitution. This is based upon the fact that these businesses, such as Trump hotels, accept payments from foreign governments.
- Educate yourself: Black Bloc is a tactic used in recent decades by anarchists of a nihilist bent who engage in violence and property destruction at protests. Famously, individuals using black bloc tactics disrupted the 1999 WTO Seattle protests. Recently, media coverage has focused on the spectacle of violence caused by black bloc rioters that showed up at protests over the weekend. Thanks to Keith Singleton who pointed this out to me!
- This article compares President Donald’s transition to Nixon’s. There have also been comparisons to the fears and concerns that dominated the political environment during Reagan’s transition. We have endured things like this before. We will endure again….assuming we can avoid nuclear war.