Week 2: Time to Resist!

So are you surprised that chaos is prevailing as Week 2 begins? The ban on immigration from seven Muslim countries and the partiality to Christians over Muslims is wreaking havoc at airports and points of entry and exit and is causing pain and hardship for many who have already suffered beyond measure. Hundreds of spontaneous protests broke out yesterday across the U.S. Courts have ruled that some of the Trump bans are unconstitutional. Trump has not indicated whether or not he will comply with the court ruling. Our allies are scratching their heads in dismay. Putin must be smiling.

Trump has taken more unilateral presidential, executive actions than any other president during his first week, and there is no sign of his letting up. He started with the repeal of Obamacare, put the nail in the coffin of the Trans Pacific Trade Pact, announced defunding the Sanctuary Cities, authorized The Wall construction, revived the two pipelines, said he was “renegotiating” NAFTA and was requiring an investigation of non existent “massive voter fraud.” Now he has taken painful, disruptive action on vetted immigrants seeking asylum. This will be the first of many disturbing immigration initiatives. The list goes on.

And we are only at the beginning of Week 2. Trump’s core supporters are euphoric. His detractors like me and many others are terrified. We seem to be on the cusp of a revolution, which could rip our country apart.

What happens next? The forced deportation of 11 million undocumented immigrants, starting with the American Dreamers? Trade war with China? Massive tax cuts for the rich and sky rocketing budget deficits? Getting out of the Paris Climate Accord? Ripping up the social safety net? Getting out of NATO? Nominating Supreme Court justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade?

There is no indication that Trump will shy away from doing any of these things. His goal appears to be to fundamentally change America as we know it, and he thinks he has a mandate to do this. Witness his blatantly false assertion that over one and a half million attended his inauguration, the largest crowd in American history.

One of the many tragedies that we are witnessing is that it did not have to start out this way. Trump could have used the fleeting good will that usually follows an election to move toward the center, to reach out to the opposition, and to get through bipartisan legislation, which he could have done had he started with jobs and infrastructure as he hinted he would. The Democrats would have gone along with this. What is the chance of this happening now? Has any president ever gotten off to a worse start?

So what do we do? We have got him for at least four years. Even if he were impeached, we would end up with Pence. If Pence were impeached, we would end up with Ryan. Folks, we are stuck.

Non-violent resistance appears to be the only option. We attended an extraordinary dance concert yesterday by Pelobius, a renown, avant garde dance troupe. Toward the end of the show, they used their bodies to spell out “RESISTANCE” as their shadows appeared on a screen. The audience jumped to their feet, and the entire theater of over a thousand erupted with cheers. Resistance is already happening.

But what does resistance mean? Here are some thoughts:

  • First there needs to be strong leadership, thoughtful planning and coordination. The Occupy Wall Street Movement is an example of what does not work. Spontaneous action without leadership eventually peters out. We need leadership, and we need commitment for the long haul. The Civil Rights Movement provides some clues. The protests were not spontaneous but rather carefully planned and thought-out. The various civil rights groups coordinated their actions and for the most part worked together even though there was often disagreement between the various groups. Strong leaders made all the difference. Where would the Civil Rights Movement have gone without Martin Luther King Jr.? There are many groups opposing Trump and more forming every day—Move On, People For the American Way, the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, CREDO Action, Avaaz, and C Street Democrats to name just a few. We need a coordinating council to pull the various efforts together, and we need a few visible, strong leaders to spearhead the effort.
  • The effort needs to be ongoing and multi dimensional. Having a plan in place is critical. Determining priorities is important. There are various actions available to the movement —massive marches and demonstrations, peaceful civil disobedience, letter writing/email/phone-in campaigns to Congress, on going use of social media, aggressive voter registration and voter education focusing on the 2018 elections, pressure on Senate Democrats to use all methods available to slow down or stop the Trump initiatives, targeted demonstrations at Trump appearances and appearances of elected or appointed Trump officials, organizing at the local level to get more people involved, organizing on college campuses, and similar actions. The key words here are ongoing and well planned. We are not going to get rid of Trump. The goal and message should be for him to modify his agenda and move toward the center, representing not just his angry base and the Alt Right. The price he pays for throwing red meat to the far right is chaos.
  • The best tool we have is legal action to stop moves that are unconstitutional or illegal. The court rulings this weekend are the results of ACLU actions. Aggressive legal defense, especially in deportation and freedom of the press cases, will be critical.
  • Resistance should hit Trump where it will hurt most: the Trump businesses. The resistance movement should call for boycotts of his hotels and various business interests and should organize peaceful, ongoing protests in front of his hotels, office buildings, resorts, and golf courses worldwide. This could very well turn out to be the most effective action of all since it is still not apparent that he really cares about anything else.
  • The movement should reach out to moderate Republicans who can’t stomach some of what Trump is doing. Surely there must be some. Lindsay Graham, John McCain and Susan Collins are candidates in the Senate. Certainly there must be others—especially in the area of foreign policy, mushrooming deficits due to tax cuts, and free trade. We need to put pressure on them to stand up for what is right when Trump moves are clearly disastrous.
  • It should also reach out to the disaffected white working class supporters who are about to realize they have been duped when they lose their health care and the promised new jobs are not forthcoming. Labor Unions need to be involved in this effort.
  • Resistance should hold out a carrot as well as a stick. When Trump takes actions that are moderate, we should applaud this. When he is able to work out a jobs program that makes sense, we should support it. When he moves to the middle, we should back off. But when this does not happen, when he pursues a path that is harmful to America, that is vicious and harmful to innocent people and that leads us toward destruction of all we believe is precious about our country, we must continue to fight with all the peaceful tools we have at our disposal. We must not give up. We must keep going. We may ultimately lose, but we can look ourselves in the mirror and know that we have given it our best.

We live on a small, fragile planet at a decisive time. We are watching history in the making. What will we tell our grandchildren about the role we played in the earth shaking events that occurred in the second decade of the Twenty-first Century?


Trump: Week One

We are still in the first week of the “First 100 Days” and have learned a lot about what to expect from the Trump presidency. Here is what we know and what we don’t know:

What We Know

  • Trump won’t change. He won’t become presidential. He won’t turn nice. He can’t. It is not in his DNA.
  • Trump is an incorrigible liar. He can look directly into the TV camera and with his typical snarl proclaim that the crowds at his inauguration dwarfed those at Obama’s, that the sun suddenly came out and the sky turned blue as he began his inaugural address, and that he won the popular vote by a landslide when you take into account the votes of five million illegal immigrants. Hey, the American people watched this on TV. We didn’t see the sun come out. We saw the photos comparing his crowd with the crowd at Obama’s first and second inaugurations. We read that no evidence has turned up anywhere about voter fraud. Yet he won’t give up; and after a while, if you lie enough, people start believing. Most of his ardent supporters already do. It appears that Orwell’s 1984 has finally arrived.Now you can say that this is little stuff. Who cares how big the crowd was? Who really knows about illegal voting? Give Trump a little slack. Maybe Trump is right on some of this. No. He is not right, and if he lies about relatively trivial stuff, what can you trust him on? The answer is nothing.
  • Trump will try to limit freedom of the press and freedom of speech. Trump has expressed his contempt for the press since he began his campaign and has now increased the decibel level. He describes journalists and reporters as the lowest life form and boasts about how much he hates them. He is now threatening to shut down the briefing room and move it to another location and to decide unilaterally who can attend briefings (Now it is the Press Corps who decides). He talks about how the press is unpopular and no longer trusted by the American people. He has referred to the NY Times and the Washington Post as perpetrators of fake news. His Press Secretary and his spokespersons defend Trump’s views as “alternate facts.” He has threatened to sue news companies for libel that say uncomplimentary things about him. If you really want to worry about something, the attack on the news media should be at the top of your list.
  • Trump cares nothing about the white working class. Trump’s cabinet has more billionaires, multi millionaires, Wall Street titans and tycoons than any in history. One of his top priorities is tax reform, which means tax breaks for the rich and trickle down economics. He will continue to throw red meat at his ardent working class supporters, but his policies will do nothing for them. They will lose their health care when Congress repeals Obamacare. The prices at Walmart will go up when we get into a trade war with China, and the much promised, high paying manufacturing jobs will not return due to automation and technology.
  • Trump’s first goal is to erase the Obama legacy. He has ardently started on this in earnest. Everyday he smiles as he vacates another Obama initiative—the trans Pacific trade deal, parts of Obamacare, and the Keystone pipeline for starters. Many others will follow.
  • Trump is targeting immigrants. This is hardly a surprise since he made it the central theme of his campaign. He is moving forward aggressively on The Wall and deporting undocumented immigrants. Today he announced ominously that he would curtail federal funding for any and all sanctuary cities.
  • Trump has declared himself the Great Populist. His mantra is jobs, jobs, jobs. I don’t have any trouble with that if it happens, but most of his policies will hurt not help the working class. He paints himself as their savior, and many believe him despite his elite cabinet selections. He trashed “the elite” at his inauguration. This is likely to turn out to be the greatest lie of all and its credibility will depend on his constant stoking the fire—finding scapegoats to turn people’s attention away from his policies that hurt rather than help them.

In summary we know a great deal about what is in store for us, and none of it is good. However, there is still much we do not know. If there is any silver lining at all, it could lie in how the answers to the unknowns turn out.

What We Don’t Know

  • What will the Republican-controlled House and Senate do? Let’s be clear on this: Trump is not a conservative. In fact many of Trump’s promises are the exact opposite of what traditional conservatives believe and stand for.
  • Trump promised in his campaign a major investment in infrastructure. Obama tried to get this kind of legislation passed and never got one Republican vote. Furthermore this will cost a lot of money. Where will the revenue come from to pay for it? How can true conservatives support this?
  • Traditional conservatives favor small government and balanced budgets. Though Trump has put a hold on federal jobs and pay, the infrastructure initiative combined with tax breaks for the rich would add trillions to the deficit. Where will the Tea Party and Freedom Caucus come out on policies that will increase the deficit beyond anything we have ever seen? Wasn’t this their raison d’etre to begin with? Are they simply going to roll over because a right wing firebrand is now in power?
  • Traditional conservatives favor free trade. Trump has already trashed the trans Pacific deal and is going to “renegotiate” NAFTA. He is threatening a trade war with China. How will traditional Republicans come out on this?
  • Traditional Republicans distrust Russia and prefer military intervention when the U.S. is threatened. They are especially wary of Putin. Putin is Trump’s hero. Trump wants the U.S. to be Russia’s friend, and he tends toward isolationism, not intervention, in foreign policy.

 In other words, Trump is not your typical Republican. He has hijacked the Republican Party. He is a strongman, a populist nativist. Will the Republicans simply fold up their tent and go along with his extremist and dangerous policies? It only takes a couple of senators to oppose him to block much of what he wants to do. Do any Republicans have a backbone and integrity?

  • Will Trump go after the Dreamers? If Trump goes after the children who were given a chance by Obama because they came here very young, most with their parents, he will create an uproar, and there will be resistance. It could create a calamity not that dissimilar from the roundups that occurred in Nazi Germany. It appears he is anticipating this by first cutting off federal funds for the sanctuary cities, but massive Dreamer deportations have not yet started. Pray that they don’t. When and if they do, we will be entering uncharted waters. It could rip our country apart.
  • Will Trump destroy the environment? Yesterday, January 24th, Trump issued a gag order to the EPA, prohibiting them from talking to the press. There is no evidence that Trump has acknowledged that environmental change is real though under oath several of his Cabinet appointees did admit that climate change is happening. Can anyone convince him to at least be neutral? Will he opt out of the Paris Accord? If he takes a hard line on this and backs away from the progress made under Obama, it is another in-your-face move, which will cause an enormous backlash. And will the Republicans simply go along with this? Do they realize the damage he would do?
  • What will happen if the good jobs do not return? Trump’s inaugural speech highlighted one thing—bringing good jobs back. Who can argue with this? But will it happen and what will be the reaction if it doesn’t? We have good data on what happened under Obama. Over 17 million jobs were added. Unemployment came down from almost 10 percent when he took office to 4.6 percent when he left. This is considered near or at full employment. Over the past year incomes have started to increase across the board. During the last several months employment was increasing at 150,000-180,000 jobs a month. So what happens if Trump does not top Obama’s job creation performance? What happens if the high paying manufacturing jobs don’t materialize? How long will it take for his base to realize they have been duped? What will they do? What lies will Trump tell to make people think that his approach is working when it isn’t?
  • What will happen if his supporters lose their health care? Repeal is pretty much a done deal. Replace is not. Close to 30 million people will be affected by whatever emerges, as will hospitals and insurance companies. If people start losing insurance or are no longer able to pay for it, what will they do? Many of these people probably voted for Trump. Will they realize they have been led down a primrose path? What lies will Trump tell to make them think they are winners instead of losers?
  • What will the American people do? The massive marches that happened on Saturday were extraordinary. There has never been anything like it in all of American history–over 500,000 in DC, 400,000 in New York City, 250,000 in Chicago, thousands and thousands in hundreds of U.S. cities. Demonstrations were held in 670 locations world-wide. Trump did not win the presidency legitimately. Russian meddling and FBI incompetence had to have an influence. Though he disputes it, he did not even come close to winning the popular vote. He does not have a mandate.

So what are we going to do about it? How can the energy and determination that happened on Saturday be maintained, nurtured, and focused? How can resistance remain peaceful and be effective? How can those of us who are against almost everything he stands for and is trying to do make a difference? It is in our court. I am confident that the movement will grow though I do not underestimate the challenge nor really know what the desired outcomes should be. But in the long run it will be up to us to figure this out and make it happen.

We are only in week one. I fear the news for the next 100 days will only get worse. We can’t sit passively by and watch as he directs the country toward a precipice.



Hail To The Chief

This is a confession.

In 48 hours Barack Obama will no longer be our president. Will we ever have another president in our lifetime like him? How lucky–how blessed–I feel to have witnessed a president of his caliber. Where will we find another candidate with his intelligence, sense of humor, energy, good judgment, and thick skin? Where will we find someone with his commitment to fairness, compassion, and justice? More than once I have thought that we did not deserve such a person. Many times I feared he would not make it to the end of his term and would be taken from us like John Kennedy was. He was just too good, more than we could have hoped for.

I also know that while many feel the way I do, he is hated and despised by many others. Our country is divided pretty much down the middle, and the next person to sit in the Oval Office will be about as different from Obama as any two people could be. Perhaps this is just the way the world is. You are not going to get two presidents like Obama in a row. That is asking too much. (But who would have predicted whom we would get?)

The pundits are now weighing in on his presidency and assessing his legacy. Some on the left complain that he could have done much more for poor people and for minorities and for the cause of economic fairness and should have gotten us out of the Middle East wars completely. Some on the right complain that he overstepped with his executive orders on the environment and social policy and that he should have taken much bolder military action in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. They still remain vehemently opposed to what he tried to do in reshaping health care, business regulations, the environment and criminal justice. Some in the middle complain of his aloofness and failure to reach out to Republicans. While I concede that much unfinished business remains—and Mr. Trump, sadly, will likely destroy much of his legacy—he played the hand he was dealt about as well as anyone could. The Republican Congress never gave him an inch.

Just as important as what he did and said in office was how he conducted himself. It is about who he was as a human being. He was a loving father and husband, who regularly expressed his devotion and love for his family and always made his family a high priority. He was a president with extraordinary integrity and strong ethics. He never gave up fighting for what he believed was best for the country or became cynical. His administration was scandal free. He was a role model for many. In short, for me he was an inspiration.

History will ultimately be the judge. History will be kind to Barack Obama.

So when times get really tough over the next four or more years, just think about Obama and how great he was as our president–certainly for me the greatest in my lifetime. For this I rejoice. For this I am thankful.

Warning: Fake News, Draft copy of the Inaugural Address of President Trump


January 20, 2017

Chief Justice, Members of Congress, members of my Cabinet–the best ever assembled in the history of the world–honored guests, special guest Vladimir Putin, and the American people:

This is a great honor to be here today, and I want to thank all of you for the most overwhelming presidential victory in American history. Were it not for all the illegal voting by illegal aliens, criminals, rapists, and discontents, I would have had the largest victory ever. In fact I think it actually was the largest, even with all the illegal voting, but it was rigged. But I won anyway and I won big, really big. So thank you, thank you for the mandate to drain the swamp and throw out the useless bureaucrats and elites, who have ruined our country and ruined our lives, and for the chance to make America great again. And I WILL make America great again.

We find ourselves right now in the worst shape the country has ever been in. If you do the math, unemployment is at an all time high. Jobs are disappearing by the millions. All our trade deals suck. The economy is shrinking, and people hate what is happening and what has happened over the past eight years. They are angry. Obama came in when America was great and ruined it. I will put it back together again. It will be great again. Unbelievable. Really beautiful and it will be great.

Now many have asked what am I going to do the first 100 days. I am going to make America great. Really great. Great and beautiful. Incredibly great again. I will do this by repealing and replacing Obama Care today, right now. I will unveil a plan later today which will end Obama Care at exactly 4:59 pm and preplace it with a new plan, Trump Care, which will insure everyone at a much lower cost and will add benefits, not take them away, and it will be much cheaper, I mean really cheap. And it will be great. You will love it. All of you except for the elites, criminals, rapists, illegal aliens, discontents, sore losers, and the crooked press. Congress will approve it tomorrow.

Next I will build the wall—bigger and better than you can ever imagine, and it will be great, and it will be beautiful, and Mexico will pay for all of it. Every penny. I will get this done by directing the U.S. Army to take on this task and to complete it in six weeks. We have the greatest army in the world, and I know they can to it. If we put every one of the 1,281,900 soldiers to work on it, it will happen, and it will happen fast. Congress will approve this tomorrow.

Then I am going to start draining the swamp. I am freezing all government employment and government funding and directing all my wonderful Cabinet members to reduce their agency employment by 25% the first year and by 50% in year two. By the end of my first term we will have no more federal employees. The swamp will have been drained.

Some of you discontents may be asking how I can do this. Who will deliver the mail? The answer is the private sector. Free enterprise. Business. In fact last week I directed my two sons, who will run all my businesses, to set up new Trump businesses, which will do most of this work, which was so poorly done by stupid government workers. I have promised not to talk to them about it anymore because I am now the president. Of course, I could talk to them if I wanted to, but all the elites, criminals, rapists, discontents, and the crooked press would object so I will just let them run it. I could easily run all my companies, which many have said are the greatest in the world, and the government, but I am not going to. Why? Because all the elites, criminals, rapists, discontents and the crooked press would complain. So I am making the sacrifice, and believe me, it is a sacrifice.

Next I am going after the Dreamers. Today. Starting today at 4:59 pm their “dream” is going to turn into a nightmare. I have established an elite Deportation Force of many thousands and am federalizing all state national guards to report to them and assist them. We will have all the Dreamers out of here in a few days and all 12 million illegal aliens, criminals and rapists out of here in a matter of weeks. My sons have established a new business, Trump Incarceration, to hold them until we get them delivered back to Mexico or wherever they came from, and it will not cost us a penny. The other countries are paying.

And I am going after the climate change nutcases immediately. These are the elites, criminals, rapists and members of the crooked press who are like Chicken Little saying the sky is falling. Enough of this fake news that says the earth is getting warmer. It is all a hoax. So we are getting out of the Paris deal, and I am repealing every directive Obama did on the environment. Let job creation begin!

Speaking of job creation, all you job creators, you are getting your Christmas present a little late—and I say Christmas, not Holiday present like all the elites would like for me to say in order to be politically correct: Your taxes will go down, way down in 2017. Both personal and corporate, and your profits will soar because at the same time I will make it illegal to establish a minimum wage anywhere. Let America grow again! Make America great again!

There is so much more that I will be doing. Just follow my tweets and you will find out. But one thing for sure is that I will put an end to all this fake news. It has gone way too far and will be outlawed. Crooked news organizations like the New York Times, Washington Post and CNN will not be allowed to attend any of my press conferences and will be sued for saying anything uncomplimentary about me in the future. As soon as I get my Supreme Court appointee installed, we will put a nail in the coffin of the fake news industry for good. When that happens, then America will be truly great again.

Finally, I want to thank my good friend, Vladimir Putin, for coming all the way from Moscow to be here with me to celebrate. His support has meant a great deal to me, and I am honored that he came. I am looking forward to a great, really great relationship with him as we move forward together to make America truly great again.

God bless Vladimir Putin and God bless the American people!




Taking Stock: Storm Clouds Looming

Less than two weeks before doomsday. How did we get here? What does it mean? Where do we go from here?

How We Got Here

Donald Trump will sworn in at high noon on January 20, 2017. Few people including most of the Trump team dreamed that this would happen. Many of us Democrats and progressives are still in a recovery mode. Some, like Embry, are still not able to talk about it. The closest feeling she says as to how she now feels is how she felt after President Kennedy was assassinated. It is more than just about Hillary’s loosing. It is about the loss of something very dear and special about the America we have known and loved, perhaps a kind of loss of innocence.

In my view three things came together in a perfect storm to put us where we are now:

  • The reemergence of global, nativist populism. When the Brexit vote happened last spring, I saw it then it as an ominous sign. People were sending a message to the establishment: They were fed up and ready for a change, even a change that was fundamentally against their best interests. This happened in the UK and is happening–or is on the cusp of happening–in many liberal democracies. Poland now has a right wing strongman running the country. Austria came close. France is in play, and Merkel is facing a tough fight from the right. Many liberal democracies are affected to one degree or another. The pushback is due largely to the disruptions caused by the global economy and the fact that new winners and losers have emerged. The losers are angry.

In addition, Europe and the United States are experiencing massive migrations, often from poor, war-torn countries, further creating disruption and fear of the future. Cultures and ways of life are changing in ways that many find uncomfortable. How do these new people with different religions, languages, customs and skin colors fit in? The answer for some is simply to keep them out or throw them out if they have already settled in. Trump picked up on this trend, exploited it, and rode it to the finish line. For figuring this out when no one else did, I suppose he deserves some credit.

  • Forgetting about the white working class. Keep this in mind: Trump did not win the popular vote. He lost by almost three million votes, the largest gap between the Electoral College vote and the popular vote in U.S. history. But he did win the Electoral College vote, and therefore by the rules he won. This happened because three states–Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin–that have traditionally voted for Democrats switched to Trump. While these were “battleground states,” all appeared to be in the Clinton camp. The white, working class vote in those states made the difference. The Hillary campaign must be asking what more could have been done in those three states and perhaps in others like Florida and North Carolina.

I believe they missed what Trump picked up on, the alienation of the white working class. This alienation is not due to Hillary so much as to the Democratic Party (excepting the Bernie movement), which many working people, mainly white men, believe has tended to favor other identity groups like women, African Americans, Latinos, immigrants, and LBTGQs. In other words, we Democrats took the white working class for granted. After all they have been the base of the party for generations. Not also focusing on them and understanding that for some time they have not been happy campers cost the Democrats big time and probably the election. They sent the same message the Brexit voters sent in the UK: Enough, time for a change.

There are also many who point to Hillary’s difficulty in connecting with some voters and her being a symbol of the Democratic liberal establishment, which many working class people believe disrespects them. There is probably a bit of truth to this, but I do not see how anyone could have asked her to do more. She gave it a Herculean effort, all that she had. She could not pretend she was someone she wasn’t.

  • Russian meddling. We probably will never know to what extent Russian hacking and mischief cost Hillary the election. Without question it made a difference. Remember Hillary won the popular vote by a substantial margin and the votes in the battleground states were very close. It would only have taken a relatively few people, tired of hearing about the emails, who showed their disgust by voting for Trump. For many the Comey incident at the end was the nail in the coffin. The relatively small number of fed up voters put off by the email controversy and the fake news could have tipped the balance in the battleground states. My guess is that they did.

In other words the historic election of 2016 was in fact a perfect storm. It was not a mandate for radical change to the right. It was not an embracing of Trump. It was not a rejection of Obama’s accomplishments or the Democratic Party. It was a fluke. Had any one of the three factors just described been different, so would have the results. But it happened. We have to deal with it.

What It Means

This is the big question. Will Trump’s election mean the end of the democratic republic as we have known it—moving toward a strong man, nativist, rightwing country similar in some ways to what Germany and Italy experienced in the 1930s or will it be something completely different with some good things and some bad things? After all Trump is hardly a doctrinaire idealist like Ted Cruise. He is a deal guy and a marketer. Style is his calling card, not substance. It is not even apparent that he has any particular values other than what is good for Trump is good for the country. The populism façade was simply a sham to exploit the anti establishment mood that he picked up on and his opponents missed. Trump is not even a traditional conservative. He is for big spending on infrastructure, and for keeping some safety net programs in place. He is dubious of free trade and does not seem to care about deficits or social hot button issues like abortion and gay marriage. Some progressives are saying his presidency won’t be anywhere near as bad as we might think.

It is too early to tell for certain, but here are the indicators, which we should be monitoring carefully and what they mean so far:

  • Trump’s Cabinet and close advisors.

This is the first early indicator. Someone who is interested in pulling together a divided country would reach out to moderates, even some in the other party. I have already graded several of the early appointees resulting in an average grade of D. What we are looking at in Trump’s cabinet and inner circle of advisors is an extreme, inexperienced and openly hostile-to-government group. It is an in-your-face statement that Trump plans to stick by his scorched earth, take-no-prisoners threats made during the campaign. Though there is some overlap, his choices seem to fall into four categories: political hacks and insiders who appear to be relatively harmless though without experience in the positions they are nominated for; billionaires and Wall Street tycoons; generals; and foxes in the hen house. A few words on principle nominations in each category:

The hacks and insiders. This includes Reince Priebus (chief of staff), Nikki Haley (UN), Elaine Chao (Transportation) and Ben Carson (HUD) though one could make a case that Carson actually belongs in the fox category since he is against “handouts for the poor.” Rick Perry could also fall into the hack category except that he is clearly a fox. In any event these appointments are sort of what you would expect from a typical president-elect and appear at first blush to be relatively harmless. So we may be safe with regard to three or four out of 28 top level appointments.

The billionaires and tycoons. These appointments would appear to be a nod to Wall Street and the traditional Republican establishment. They include Rex Tillerson (head of Exxon to State), Linda McMahon (professional wrestling magnate to Small Business), Betsy DeVois (Amway heiress to Education), Wilbur Ross (leverage buyout tycoon to Commerce), and Steve Mnuchin (Goldman Sachs to Treasury). There are a bunch of others like Carson, Chao, Andy Pudzer (Labor), Tom Price (HHS), Jeff Sessions (Attorney General) and Stephen Bannon (Chief Strategist) who are also billionaires or multi millionaires though I put them in another category because except for the possible exception of Carson, they are foxes. CBS reported that the net worth of the Trump cabinet and high-level nominees exceeds $14 billion. There has never been a cabinet with so much wealth. So much for throwing a bone to the white working class that got him elected.

Though conflicts of interests may be an issue for people with this kind of wealth, the fact that they are billionaires and multi millionaires would not necessarily disqualify them. Several, however, also have an ax to grind or come with an agenda. Devois in Education is opposed to traditional public school and a champion of vouchers and charter schools. Ross in Commerce is anti China and a proponent of high tariffs to level the playing field. Tillerson in the State Department has very close ties to Putin.

The generals. There will be three of them, the highest in U.S.history. Michael Flynn, National Security Advisor, is the wild card. He got fired for being a loose cannon in the military and has expressed strong anti Muslim views. I gave him an F in a previous blog post. The other two do not appear to be too bad. John Kelly will head up Homeland Security and James Mattis will be the Secretary of Defense. Bad things may come out in the hearings, but for now I will give them both passing grades. It is instructive that probably Trump’s strongest candidate for a Cabinet position, James Mattis, has the nick name “Mad Dog.”

The foxes in the hen house. Here is where it starts to get scary. These are the nominees who are hostile to the departments where they will be in charge. In short judging from their past actions and statements, they want to burn the places down. Starting off with the scariest and moving down the list: Stephen Bannon, candidate for Chief Strategist, is a alt right apologist, fake news propagator, and neo Nazi sympathizer. Attorney General nominee, Jeff Sessions, has a long history of opposing civil rights and was turned down for a federal judgeship by the Senate Judiciary Committee several years ago for his racist comments and actions. The HHS Secretary nominee, Tom Price, is a tea party radical who has been obsessed with killing Obamacare. Rick Perry, who will head up Energy, is on the record for wanting to eliminate the agency and favors Big Oil over sustainable energy. Ryan Zinke, who will head up Interior, is a climate change denier, supports the oil and gas industry, has voted against most environmental legislation, and referred to Hillary Clinton as the “Anti-Christ.” Scott Pruitt, who will head up the EPA, is another climate change denier and big supporter of the fossil fuel industry. Andrew Pudzer, another multi millionaire and fast food mogul, will head up Labor. He is against increasing the minimum wage, is anti union, and has a record of treating his Hardee’s and Carl’s Junior employees unfairly. CIA nominee is Mike Pompano, another leader of the tea party, who has been obsessed with the Benghazi attack and is a right wing fanatic.

Heard enough? When you have people in charge who are anti-government and who want to destroy the agencies they lead, it is not what you would call a promising sign.

  • Trump’s Temperament.

After winning the Electoral College vote, Trump immediately tweeted that he had also won the popular vote by a landslide due to all the illegal votes cast by minorities and illegal immigrants and has not backed off this even though there is no evidence to support it. While he made a couple of promising statements saying that he wanted to bring the country together and that he would not jail Hillary, these have been few and far between. He continues to tweet into the wee hours, his latest targets being Arnold Schwarzenegger and Meryl Streep. He took a victory lap in the key states he won and did not modify his fire-and-brimstone ranting. He has not produced tax returns or financial information and shows no interest in ever doing so, has appointed his son-in-law as senior advisor, and continues to stick by his support for Putin, denying that the email hacking had any impact on the election. It is not yet clear how he will deal with all the conflicts of interest with his myriad businesses. In other words he has shown no change from the outrageous and bombastic personality that he revealed on the campaign trail. It is not clear that he could change even if he wanted to. In short if you are looking for Trump to mellow out or move to the center, do not hold your breath.

  • Trump’s Actions.

Beware of the first 100 Days and expect the worst. Trump is a showman, knows he has to perform by throwing red meat to his base, and has a limited period to make his presidential debut. Here are the initiatives and where they now stand. Unless Democrats in Congress can figure out some way to stop or slow down the process, it appears almost certain that three initiatives will happen very early in Trump’s presidency:

The Wall will be started and the “budget conscious” Republicans will go along with him. Cost estimates range from $20-$40 billion; and though he still maintains that Mexico will end up paying for it, few believe him or even seem to care. This is a very expensive symbolic and unnecessary act since more Mexicans are leaving the United States than entering it illegally, and many will find other ways of getting into the U.S. and remaining here like overstaying visas.

Tax breaks for the super rich. This initiative is coming more from the House than from Trump though there is nothing to indicate that Trump won’t go along with it. This is trickle down economics in spades with a devastating impact on future deficits unless drastic cuts to social and domestic programs accompany it. All working class white voters who put him in office take notice.

The repeal of Obama Care. The only question is whether the repeal will happen with or without a replacement. While the majority of Americans still say they do not like Obama Care, by strong majorities they like virtually all parts of it except the individual mandate. Of course, you can’t do all the other stuff like prohibit exclusion for pre-existing conditions, not permit maximum lifetime limits and allow young adults to remain on their parents’ policies without an individual mandate. People will wait until they are sick to sign up. The Republicans have not come up with a replacement after seven years and more than 50 votes to kill the law because there is no alternative other than something very close to Obama Care or a single payer system that will achieve the goal of universal coverage. If Obama Care is reversed without a viable replacement plan, as many as 30 million could find themselves without health insurance. Working class white voters– the majority of those who have benefitted from Obama Care—will suffer the most.

There is a whole lot of other stuff that we do not know about yet. Chief among these is the deportation initiative. How many illegal immigrants will deported? When will this happen? Will Trump go after the American Dreamers? Will storm troopers be used, forcing entries to homes in the middle of the night and taking people to makeshift prisons before shipping them off? Some nightmare scenarios sound awfully close to what happened in Germany in the 1930s though, granted, no death camps are envisioned.

There are many other actions like getting out of the Paris Environmental accord and gutting environmental regulations, comprehensive tax reform, business deregulation, gutting safety net social programs, tariffs and trade restrictions against China and Mexico, supreme court appointments and the future of Roe v. Wade, limiting LBGTQ rights, voter restrictions, Muslim registrations, assaults on Labor Unions and public education, and challenges to freedom of speech and the free press. The list goes on. What is especially troubling is that the direction that is likely to be taken by Trump and the Republican Party is exactly the opposite of what we progressives would like to see happen. It is terrifying. And I haven’t mentioned international issues, which could be the scariest of all.

What Are We To Do?

The first line of defense are our elected Democrats in the House and Senate. They need to use the same kind of obstructionist tactics that the Republicans used against them and to fight them at every move.

But it is not only our elected representatives. It is also us. Do not forget that Trump did not win the popular vote. We are in the majority.

I know that I may sound like an alarmist. I suppose that is the primary reason that I have written this blog post. I am alarmed. I truly believe that possible scenarios that await us could threaten the republic like nothing else we have experienced in our lifetimes. I hope that I am wrong, that the inevitable Trump overreach will bring the American public to our senses, and that public opinion will force the administration to back off and follow a more centrist approach. But there is no guarantee, and surely it will not happen if progressives and others do not organize and resist Trump’s hostile actions through massive demonstrations, civil disobedience, voter registrations, get out the vote campaigns, and relentless ongoing protests and speaking out. We also need to reach out to the working class voters who supported Trump and bring them back into the fold. Surely at some point they will realize they have been sold a bill of goods. We also need to work and get involved locally—in both local and state elections. We are entering a new period where the rules are changing and the stakes have never been higher. This is no time to remain on the sidelines.

At this moment we are in a period of speculation. In just over a week it will become real. The warning signals are clearly out there. What are we going to do about it?