“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.

The Problem with Preferred Pronouns

Recently, there has been a movement to pass legislation that would, by law, require businesses to refer to people by their “preferred pronoun”. In fact, a law like this has already passed in the state of New York. In fact, in New York, if a business doesn’t refer to someone by their “preferred pronoun”, they can be subject to fines up to $250,000. In other words, if you don’t use words that the government requires, they will punish you. Severely.

Among the social justice warrior community, there is a sentiment that all gender and gender roles are constructs of society. In fact, some even claim that gender doesn’t exist at all. My question for those “warriors”, then, is this: if gender doesn’t exist, how is it possible that someone can be born into a male body with a female mind or identity? The groups that push for legally enforced speech-censorship are looking for one thing: control. Yes, transgender folk have been unjustly discriminated against for far too long. However, this movement has gone too far.

As a Libertarian, the thought of government telling me what I must say is deeply disturbing. It’s one thing if the government tells you what you can’t say (i.e. yelling “fire” in a theater), but when the government mandates what we must say, we should all be extremely concerned. Jordan Peterson, a professor at the University of Toronto, is an outspoken critic of the social justice warrior/government censorship movement. He has refused to use “preferred pronouns” when their use is mandated by law, and as a result, he has been accused of hate speech and violating the Ontario Human Rights Code. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, refusing to say a government-mandated made-up word like “zir” will put you in the same category as Holocaust deniers. Essentially, you are being forced to recognize something that you may or may not agree with. As Eugene Volokh said in his Washington Post article, “Feel uncomfortable about being forced to use terms that express social status views (“Milord”) or religious views (“Your Holiness”) that you may not endorse? Well, you should feel uncomfortable about people being forced to use “ze,” which expresses a view about gender that they might not endorse.” And people are surprised why Donald Trump’s anti-PC rhetoric propelled him to victory in the US election.

Although the “slippery slope” argument is rather cliche, it’s hard not to apply that logic to this phenomenon. Once the government starts telling us what we must say, there is no going back (which is why I’m against the Pledge of Allegiance being required in schools). It’s only a matter of time before this movement gets completely out of control.

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?).

Obama didn’t help himself by giving Biden the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Here’s why.

Recently, Vice President Joe Biden was awarded the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom (with distinction). Mr Biden is now among the ranks of John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and Colin Powell (all of whom earned the medal with distinction as well). Whether or not Mr Biden is qualified to earn the medal is up for debate. That discussion, however, is not the intent of this article.

My contention is that Mr Obama’s giving of the highest civilian honor to his Vice President seems to be his administration patting themselves on the back. There is a sentiment among many conservative Republicans that Mr Obama has a better-than-thou “vibe”, so to speak. They believe that he takes too much credit for too little action. In an era where partisan rifts have ended friendships, led to violence, and decreased trust in our fellow Americans, the sitting president needs to be doing everything possible to foster some sort of healing. Maybe it’s hosting a town hall with voters from both sides that’s aired on both Fox News and CNN (just an idea). Obviously, it is too late to plan that.

I am not saying that Mr Obama should give in to the impending Republican takeover; in fact, he should do the opposite (as should a Republican politician giving way to a Democrat). I am saying that Mr Obama did not help the image of his party with this medal ceremony.

The last thing Mr Obama should’ve done in his last two weeks in office was award one of his own with the highest honor available to civilians. That being said, Mr Biden has had a long career of public service and certainly deserves recognition; I am simply making the point that this recognition came at the wrong time in the wrong form.

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.