States’ Rights or States’ Wrongs?

Trump’s administration doesn’t care about states rights, no matter what they’ve said in the past.

Recently, the Department of Justice and Department of Education instructed the Supreme Court to ignore Obama-era memos regarding the protections of transgender students in the public school system. President Trump’s new policy will prevent transgender students from using the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity. According to the Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, “Congress, state legislatures, and local governments are in a position to adopt appropriate policies or laws addressing this issue.”

Essentially, the Trump administration is making the case that this contentious and controversial issue is one best left up to the states. Considering the fact that Trump is indeed a Republican makes it understandable that he would adopt a pro-states’ rights platform. However, Trump and his administration have proven to be remarkably inconsistent when it comes to states’ rights, and it is clear that the current administration uses the façade of “states’ rights” to push through an intolerant agenda.

We can see the Trump administration’s hypocrisy through Sean Spicer’s recent implication that the federal law regarding recreational marijuana will be enforced more strictly under the Sessions Department of Justice. Sean Spicer, the White House Press Secretary, said we should expect “greater enforcement” of federal laws regarding marijuana use. According to Spicer, Trump sees “a big difference” between recreational pot and medicinal cannabis. It is clear that the Trump team is fully prepared to reject states’ rights when states make decisions that don’t fall in line with the President’s rollback of civil liberties.

Why Marijuana Should be Legal

Luckily, some members of Congress are fighting back. Four members of Congress, two Democrats and two Republicans, have formed the Congressional Cannabis Caucus in an effort to fight back against the suppression of the democratic will of those who voted to legalize marijuana in their home states (recreational marijuana use is currently legal in California, Colorado, Washington, Massachusetts, Alaska, Nevada, and Maine). For those of us who live in states with legal recreational marijuana, we should write and call our representatives to make sure that our democratic choices are protected and respected. Similarly, we should contact our representatives to introduce legislation that protects the rights of transgender students.

As a Libertarian, it is none of my business which bathroom someone chooses to use- that, to me, seems like a civil liberty that the government has no right to restrict. The same logic applies to recreational marijuana; if you want to smoke a joint after a long day at work, who is that hurting?

You can contact your Representatives here, and you can contact your Senators here.

 

 

 

The Hypocrisy of the Right

With the recent immigration Executive Order issued by President Trump, the true nature of many of America’s GOP leaders is coming to light. Despite courting the Evangelical vote for decades, Republican lawmakers are showing callous disregard for the Bible as they defend President Trump’s draconian policies. The Holy Bible is very clear about how Christians are meant to treat foreigners and refugees:

“The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.” -Leviticus 19:34

“I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick in prison and you did not visit me.” -Matthew 25:43

There are many more verses in the Bible that are similar to the two verses above. Jesus teaches that the poor and vulnerable in society must be taken care of and welcomed with open arms. Despite claiming to be Christians, the GOP has shown it’s true character in defending the refugee ban currently in place. Only a handful of Republican lawmakers have fought it, including John McCain and Lindsey Graham. The following is from the Washington Post:

“Freedom of religion is a fundamental constitutional principle. It’s a founding principle of this country,” Ryan told reporters following a closed-door morning meeting at the Republican National Committee in December 2015. “This is not conservatism. What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for. And more importantly, it’s not what this country stands for.”

Since President Trump has taken office, Paul Ryan has remained deafeningly silent regarding the ban. Luckily, a federal judge has temporarily halted the “Muslim Ban”, as many call it. Alt-right publications, including InfoWars, have suggested that the judge is committing treason by making use of the checks-and-balances system that is so integral to our republican form of government. Trump has gone on to attack the credibility of the judge who halted his EO on Twitter, and in doing so, has attacked the very foundation of American government.

“Alternative Facts” and Trump’s Desire to Gut Your Constitutional Rights

Recently, at the first White House Press Conference, Sean Spicer spent his entire time making the President feel better about the size of the crowd at his inauguration. When it became clear that he was lying, Kellyanne Conway, the Counselor to the President, said that he offered “alternative facts” to the press. 

Wait a minute.

The Counselor to the President just said that it is okay to use “alternative facts”. There is no such thing as “alternative facts”, sweetheart. Lies are lies. We’ve had President Trump for less than a week, and already he is using his staff to spread propaganda. He’s already accused CNN of being fake news, and refuses to take questions from them. We are rapidly descending into government directly controlling the media (however, the case can be made that they already do). We have seen this happen in Turkey, with President Erdogan jailing reporters who criticize the government. In fact, Mr Trump made a comment in February on the campaign trail, stating “when [journalists] write purposefully negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.” We can only hope that the Trump government doesn’t “open up the libel laws” and jail journalists for criticizing him. We have already heard him threaten to jail his political opponents (which he later backed down on), but now that he is in power, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go after his more low-profile opponents.

Our free speech rights are under attack. When our ability to criticize the government is taken from us, there is no going back. The Second Amendment is the only one that protects the First; do not be surprised if Trump begins rolling back those rights too (despite what he’s said on the campaign trail, it is clear that he has an immense desire for complete control. The best way to do that is to disarm the populace). Keep your eyes and ears peeled for Mr Trump’s gutting of your Constitutional rights.

How Fox Elected Trump

According to the Pew Research Center, 40% of Trump supporters got their news primarily from one outlet: Fox News. Hillary voters seemed to get their news and information from a much broader range of media outlets, the most popular of which was CNN (of which 18% of Hillary voters cited as their primary news source). Because Fox News has always had a Republican slant, I think it is safe to say that those who primarily watch Fox would’ve voted against Hillary no matter who the Republican nominee was. We have to wonder to what degree Fox News was able to convince people to vote for Trump, as it is clear that he is not a conventional Republican.

From what I’ve personally seen on Fox News, they like to sell themselves as an objective news source. One of the most interesting things about Fox News is the way they portray themselves as the victims; referring to other news outlets as the “mainstream media”, it gives the sense that Fox is marginalized and pushed to the fringes of the media world. In reality, however, Fox News is the most watched news network in the United States. When they blast liberals for being “snowflakes” and making use of “identity politics”, it is highly hypocritical. Fox News wants conservatives to feel that they are the minority; that way, they’ll be more willing to speak out in public and vote against Democrats. It’s really a great strategy, but one that I wish more people would catch on to. I suppose that this phenomenon just speaks to the US education system’s failure to teach critical thinking skills. In the words of Donald Trump: Sad!

US Intelligence vs Trump, and how Russia wins

One of the most striking and unprecedented things about the current transition is the President-elect’s disdain for the intelligence community. A disconnect between the various US intelligence agencies and Mr Trump puts United States national security at risk.

A potential president vs. intelligence community feud is one of the worst possible things that could happen under the new administration. Imagine if Trump were to release confidential information to spite the intelligence community. Would you really put it past him to do that? I wouldn’t. He is unable to let go of a grudge, and the day Donald Trump “takes the high road” is the day hell freezes over.

Given Mr Trump’s various connections to Russia, it is also feasible to imagine that Mr Trump could feed confidential information to the Russians.

One of the strangest trends that I’ve noticed on social media is the Trump base’s hypocrisy when it comes to the FBI and CIA. When James Comey and the FBI went public with their second investigation of Hillary Clinton, Fox News commentators ate it up, and Trump’s stump speeches at campaign stops were full of references to “Crooked Hillary”. Now, however, that the FBI and CIA are showing connections between the Russian government and Mr Trump, they are “untrustworthy and dishonest”.

Russia wins in all this because a) Hillary Clinton was delegitimized and therefore the Putin-friendly candidate won the election, and b) Donald Trump’s supporters don’t believe the allegations that Mr Trump’s campaign staff met with Russian officials or that Russia has compromising information regarding Mr Trump. In the end, there is too much media attention (especially from Fox News) on past mistakes of the intelligence communities (Iraq, for example) in an effort to show how “dishonest” they are, and Russia has managed to stay almost entirely under the radar. People are distracted by the talking heads on Hannity’s show, and don’t understand that a foreign government has interfered with our sovereignty.

How Donald Trump has already abused his power with one Tweet

Recently, Donald Trump tweeted an advertisement. That really should speak for itself. When the soon-to-be most powerful man in the world is endorsing a snow boot company, we really need to stop and reflect on what’s happened to our country. Mr Trump’s endorsing of LL Bean is essentially an example of the antique spoils system. Linda Bean donated to Mr Trump’s campaign, and as a result, buys her company an endorsement from the President-elect. It seems as though we have been flung back in time to the Gilded Age.

After Mr Trump’s tweet, federal employees, specifically executive branch employees, were reminded that endorsing or advertising products is unethical and should not be done.

Mr Trump has already shown the American people that he is unable to separate business and politics. His many companies will be managed by his sons upon his inauguration, rather than by a blind trust (as past presidents have done with their companies/assets). Personally, I believe Mr Trump is decidedly untrustworthy and we should expect him to regularly communicate with his sons regarding the state of his many businesses. Why should we expect him to tell the truth about this? After all, he has already gone back on many of his campaign promises (apparently, US taxpayers are going to pay for his famous wall now! Or is it a fence?).

Trump’s Administration and Foreign Policy Implications

If you have been paying attention to Trump’s administration appointments, you will notice that many of Trump’s nominees are billionaires like him. Mr Trump, throughout the election, has fancied himself a champion of the working class.

Mr Trump’s Cabinet appointees do not follow that model. Many of his appointees (Rex Tillerson, for example) are mega-rich billionaires who have made their fortune on globalism and free trade. Mr Trump’s protectionist policies fly in the face of the actions of many of his Cabinet appointees. Going forward, it will be interesting to see how former “globalists” handle their new protectionist agenda.

A large number of Mr Trump’s appointees are former military members, which in and of itself is not a bad thing. However, it gives rise to the idea that perhaps the Trump presidency will end up as more of a military administration than civilian administration. He is clearly going for the Reagan-esque “peace through strength” idea. To his supporters, an administration filled with military men and women means that “America will be respected again”. It seems that the only diplomatic strategy Trump or his supporters can fathom is war. Every diplomat knows that war is the last stage of diplomacy, not the first. It is my opinion that Trump will rely far too heavily on the military and scare-tactics to further his vague foreign policy agenda. This will result in deterioration of our most important alliances (Trump has already said he will “certainly look” at pulling the United States out of NATO).

It will also be interesting to see how a majority military administration handles an idea like pulling out of NATO. There is no doubt that people like Gen. James Mattis understands the importance of this alliance. Hopefully, the military members of Mr Trump’s administration will do their best to talk him out of any alliance-damaging actions.