January 27, 2017 by T. Gregory Argall
Come in. Have a seat. Wow, what a week, huh?
Last Friday was the inauguration of Donald J. Trump and he’s had a rather active and oppressive week.
(And just so we’re clear, in this post, I will respect the office he holds and refrain from using any derogatory nicknames for him. Although my personal favourite is “Cheeto Voldemort.”)
The smoke was still wafting up from the charred handprint on the “swearin’-in bible” when the Official White House website underwent a complete and drastic facelift. All references to women’s right, LGBT rights, pretty much any civil rights at all were removed. Any mention of climate change or use of the word “science” was similarly erased. Various issues and topics took their place, all under the heading of “America First,” but mostly it’s just a collection of essays about awesome and wonderful Donald J. Trump is with his plans to Americanize the planet.
I’m all for being proud of your country, but when the first six paragraphs of your “America First Foreign Policy” are all about building up your military so you can defeat people and be respected, you start to sound like a schoolyard bully.
Anyway, soon after insisting that rain clouds parted just for him, Donald J. Trump began issuing a near continuous stream of Executive Orders, scattering them in all directions, like Skittles on a Wisconsin highway. Just as they did every time Barack Obama even uttered the words “Executive Order,” the Republican Party has called him out on his random and excessive executive overreach. Ha! Just kidding. They’ve been stunningly silent on the matter; they’re too busy licking his shoes and trying to avoid the steamrollers.
Meanwhile there’s a hiring freeze in departments that are already short staffed, scientists are in fear of losing their jobs if they talk about actual science, most federal agencies have had their Twitter feeds silenced, and the White House is not accepting incoming telephone calls. Basically no information of any sort is being released other than via Press Secretary Sean Spicer who has embraced the term “alternative facts” as the preferred synonym for “bull shit.” The priority seems to be continued insistence that Donald J. Trump is better than anyone else ever, and that support for him is greater than support for anything else ever, regardless of overwhelming and verifiable evidence to the contrary. Spicer’s first official press briefing, last Saturday, was essentially a scolding by proxy on behalf of Donald J. Trump because the media had reported facts with evidence.
(By the way, I’m using his full name, rather than the more traditional title plus surname, because every time I type the letters P-R-E-S-I-D-E-N-T my computer autocorrects it to read “Petulant.” I’m not sure why.)
However, in a startling twist that has shocked and befuddled authors of dystopian fiction everywhere, the National Park Service seems to be leading the resistance. Following the lead of Badlands National Park, NASA, the FDA, the EPA and several other federal agencies have spawned non-government controlled rogue Twitter accounts that are reporting science and facts. It’s kind of inspiring, in an unlikely way.
Alternatively, resistance of another sort took place at the State Department. After meeting the new Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, the entire senior management of the State Department quit. They just walked out. “I’d rather be unemployed without a letter of reference than work for that guy.”
There are, indeed, interesting times.
It’s important to note that one part of the White House website that has remained intact is the petition page, entitled “We The People.” This is crucial. Go there now and go there often to see what petitions are active, which require more signatures, and eventually, which have received responses. There is a commitment stated on the petition page, saying that every petition that receives 100,000 signatures within 30 days will receive an official response.
Several current petitions have already surpassed the minimum signature amount.
There are, of course, conditions and guidelines in regards to petitions, but unlike so many other things lately, they are actually quite reasonable.
If you create a petition, try to be specific and definitely keep it civil. As tempting as it may be to make a petition saying, “We the people want Donald Trump to go suck a bag of dicks!” there’s no reasonable expectation (or obligation) for you to actually receive a response, no matter how quickly you get 100,000 signatures. Not a response you’ll want, anyway.
As a Canadian I can only watch with hope and trepidation as this whole thing continues to unfold, although the ramifications will surely affect me along with the rest of Canada. But if you are an American citizen, please, I strongly encourage you to use the petition page to ensure that your voice is heard.
Also, find the time to read (or reread) George Orwell’s 1984.
And, as always, try to be nice to each other.