A Bully Pulpit or a Bully’s Pulpit

Such a flurry of activity in the first week as executive orders poured out of the Oval Office at a fast and furious pace. To what end …Yes, a wall is going to be built … except it might be a fence and might not cover the whole stretch. The chief of the border patrol has resigned/fired over disagreement. Yes, the Mexicans are going to pay for it … except they are not. The Mexican President cancelled his visit to the U.S. over the threats and squabble.

Mexican goods may be taxed at 20 percent to pay for it … except that would cost the American taxpayer in higher prices, and would hurt exports — not just by Mexico’s response but also unexpectedly because many American manufacturers import parts from their Mexican plants (and Canadian and many others) to produce products that are consumed domestically and exported.

Obamacare is a target but what is to replace it? The American Hospital Association reports it will cost the hospitals $160 billion a year. Physicians claim new successful treatment of chronic ailments will be jeopardized resulting in a return to lack of consistent care and emergency hospitalization. Why? Because uninsured patients cannot afford, and tend to postpone, regular doctor visits.

Mayors of many cities feel good relations between police and immigrant communities help control crime. They have, consequently, refused to allow police to hound these communities by enforcing immigration rules, constituting a civil infraction, on peaceable residents, who do a job, pay taxes, and contribute to the community but may not be documented.

Through executive order, President Trump has threatened to withhold federal funds due these sanctuary cities, as he calls them. The mayors are fighting back. They contend an executive order does not carry legal authority to withhold funds and it would require an act of Congress.

On the immigration order, lawsuits filed in several major cities have resulted in judges ordering a stay in its execution. The suits involved individuals with legitimate visas or green cards. What a contrast is Trump’s order and the little Greek island of Lesvos (population about 86,000)? It has processed tens of thousands of refugees, and has been commended by the UNHCR for its selfless help to the displaced escaping wars for which the U.S. was largely responsible.

The strategy against government departments is more insidious. Similar to the George W. Bush era, it consists very simply of installing heads who are hostile to the department’s mission. Thus Betsy de Vos, viscerally opposed to public education, at the Department of Education, Rick Perry at the Department of Energy to name a few. And oil men and climate change deniers, in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence, taking the country backwards into the future.

Overloading the media is the tactic, as quite brazenly the Trump Organization announced plans to triple its hotels in America. Why not when the owner is ensconced in the White House? Little seems to stand in the way of four years of plunder when the media too is delegitimized. The latest in the continuing assault is White House strategist and former alt-right honcho Stephen Bannon saying “media should keep its mouth shut”.

So the ethnic and economic assault begins. Batten down the hatches, the storm is on the horizon. Still there is pushback.

President Duterte has slammed Trump’s executive order setting up arms depots in three Philippines provinces. He threatens to tear up the Visiting Forces agreement which, he says, does not permit permanent facilities.

In England, Malala Yusufzai has condemned the immigration order saying she is heartbroken. Herself a Muslim and a victim of Islamic extremists (Muslims are almost all of their victims) for voicing the need to educate girls, she is the youngest ever recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize.

The Union of Concerned Scientists has pushed the doomsday clock thirty seconds closer … to two and a half minutes to midnight.

Lastly, The Economist Intelligence Unit, a British think tank and sister company to The Economist magazine, has downgraded the U.S.: It joins a group of 57 countries rated ‘flawed democracies’.

Dr. Arshad M. Khan
Dr. Arshad M. Khan
Dr. Arshad M. Khan is a former Professor based in the US. Educated at King's College London, OSU and The University of Chicago, he has a multidisciplinary background that has frequently informed his research. Thus he headed the analysis of an innovation survey of Norway, and his work on SMEs published in major journals has been widely cited. He has for several decades also written for the press: These articles and occasional comments have appeared in print media such as The Dallas Morning News, Dawn (Pakistan), The Fort Worth Star Telegram, The Monitor, The Wall Street Journal and others. On the internet, he has written for Antiwar.com, Asia Times, Common Dreams, Counterpunch, Countercurrents, Dissident Voice, Eurasia Review and Modern Diplomacy among many. His work has been quoted in the U.S. Congress and published in its Congressional Record.