An Issue Still Important… Religious Authoritarianism and the Trump Administration

Originally posted March 8, 2017.

Analysts have written endless numbers of commentaries to explain why Trump voters voted for him and why they are continuing to support him. “Trump does what he says he is going to do,” they say. “He is authentic”. “Clinton was a crook.” “My identity is being disrespected while undeserving people are being given handouts by the government.” “We can’t afford a higher minimum wage, paid sick leave, maternity leave, healthcare, job protections, public transportation, child day care.” Instead of handouts, they say, government should encourage private enterprise. Trump voters feel they are unfairly disadvantaged economically. They feel their patriotism is not admired. “Money spent on the military is patriotic.” They want to return America to the fifties and the supremacy of white men. Continue reading “An Issue Still Important… Religious Authoritarianism and the Trump Administration”

The List You Need: National Monuments Under Attack by Trump

Protect our National Heritage: Oppose Trump

Trump has released a list of 27 iconic national monuments up for “review” under the Antiquities Act — the first step toward stripping these natural wonders of protections.

They touch every corner of our country. The list, published by The Sierra Club, is shocking:  Continue reading “The List You Need: National Monuments Under Attack by Trump”

The Historic People’s Climate March

The April 29, 2017 Historic People’s Climate March was unlike any of the other huge protest marches in Washington that I have participated in over the last nearly 50 years.  For me, the first of these was the MARCH TO WASHINGTON, November 15 1969, organized by the New Haven Committee for the Fall Offensive Against the War in Vietnam (described earlier in a C-Street post).

Why historic?  What was special about this latest climate march? Continue reading “The Historic People’s Climate March”

Chocolate Cake and Bombs for Desert

According to Wilbur Ross during a speech yesterday, the Syrian bombing by the U.S. during the visit of China’s President Xi was “after-dinner-entertainment.”  And it didn’t cost the president anything for that entertainment.

That an act of this nature, in the name of our Nation, is considered entertainment is beyond words.  Literally, I cannot think of words.  None I can write here, anyway.  As to cost, perhaps it didn’t cost the president anything, but it sure the hell cost the American people – our hard earned tax dollars paid for that ‘entertainment.’  The cost of a Tomahawk missile, per the Navy budget for fiscal year 2017, is $1.355 million. Given that the strike used 59 missiles, that comes out to roughly $79.9 million for just the missiles alone.  That’s some pretty costly entertainment if you ask me.

Trump has recounted the strike, coincidentally timed with Xi’s visit, with great fanfare, in one interview recalling the food he and Xi ate with specificity.  “I was sitting at the table. We had finished dinner. We’re now having dessert,” Trump told Fox Business. “And we had the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you’ve ever seen, and President Xi was enjoying it.”

Chocolate cake and bombs for dessert.  At the expense of the American public.  For entertainment.   Words anyone?

What America is Great?

As Trump passes the 100 day mark there are many efforts to explain   why the Trump voters mostly remain steadfastly behind him.  One prominent explanation is the appeal of the Trump nationalist message. Trump voters reliably cheer the loudest when the applause line is about terrorism, illegal immigration or the Wall.  It seems whatever his flipflopping, backtracking, incoherence and ignorance Trump will continue to be able to vent against Muslims and against countries who he says are making money off us because of weak Obama policies.  What guides him continues to be  the art of the deal where the only reality is winning in a one on one, zero sum conflict. You aren’t really winning if you are a part of    a regional organization, say, that is making all of its members better off. When he goes along with his few sensible advisors who tell him the he can’t get rid of NATO or NAFTA, as he said he would, he can make some obfuscating noise and no one seems to notice.

Continue reading “What America is Great?”


A large cohort of Trump voters belong to religious communities which believe that God has preordained that some will prosper materially in this world and some will not. In this “Prosperity Gospel” those who prosper are revealing God’s will and benediction on them. If you believe and are saved and you are prosperous this is evidence that you are favored by God.

Donald Trump is not a religious type, to say the least, but he is prosperous!  Trump has held up the riches of his aides as a badge of honor and of God’s blessing. On March 31, press spokesman Sean Spicer said “the President has brought a lot of people into this administration, into this White House in particular, who have been very blessed and very successful by this country and have given up a lot to come into the government setting aside a lot of assets.”

Among the many others in Trump’s White House that Spicer was referencing  would be Gov. Sonny Perdue of Georgia,  Trumps nominee for secretary of agriculture, and Carl Icahn,  special advisor for regulatory reform.

Perdue’s “blessings” includes getting  $100,000  in breaks on capital gains tax when his personal lawyer, who happened to be a state legislator, engineered a change in a Georgia law that made  new provisions retroactive, giving Perdue the $100,000.  Icahn will be blessed when he succeeds in pushing the Trump administration to change an Environmental Protection Agency rule that guides the way ethanol and gasoline are blended .  This change would directly benefit an oil refiner, CVR Energy, in which Icahn has a majority stake.

Where is Trump’s  “badge of honor” here? Are we supposed to assume that God blesses everyone who gets rich? Continue reading “THOSE WHO ARE RICH ARE BLESSED AND DESERVE GOD’S BLESSING?”

The Nightmare Continues

Trump had his chance for a reset and missed it. Remember that Trump campaigned as a populist, not as a traditional Republican. He could have used the overwhelming rejection (17% public approval) of his flawed, Trump-Ryancare bill as an opportunity to move toward the center. He could have expressed an openness for a bill that would benefit those working class supporters who got him elected, not just the fat cats. He could have reached out to the Democrats, offering to work with them to fix Obamacare so that it works better.

Not gonna happen.

We heard today that he is not giving up after all on a “repeal and replace” law. Members of the Freedom Caucus have said the same thing. Here we go again.

But that is not all that he has done this week that should trouble people—including moderate and open-minded Republicans. Yesterday he proudly signed the order to “repeal and replace” the Obama initiatives on climate change and carbon emissions. According to most environmentalists and others who are following the global warming story, this is potentially catastrophic. It could sack the Paris Accord and is handing the global leadership role on climate issues over to China. Regardless of whatever else Trump does in his presidency, this move alone will earn him a place in the annals of the worst scoundrels in history. According to a CNN report I heard yesterday, ExxonMobil even placed a full page ad in either the NY Times or the Wall Street Journal supporting a go-slow approach on tearing up the Obama climate initiatives. Will the American public put up with this? What can we do?

The other item, of course, is the drip, drip, drip of the Russian inquiry including the secret meeting in the White House between the head of the House Intelligence Committee and either Trump or one of his acolytes. The House investigation is now on hold, and Nunes refuses to recuse himself or step down. Then there is the meeting between Kushner and the head of a Russian bank with ties to Putin. And, of course, Trump’s continued insistence that it is really Obama who has broken the law with his illegal wire taps. If there is nothing to the accusations that people in the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, then why is Trump behaving like he is guilty? What do they have to hide?

So the nightmare called Donald Trump continues. Alas, this is likely to keep going  until he either wears out, is impeached, or just calls it quits. I do not see any light at the end of the tunnel regarding this deeply flawed human being and the harm he is doing to our country. The American people spoke out on the health care bill and that made a difference. Now we must speak out on climate change. God knows what it will be tomorrow. Stay tuned….

Joe Howell





Push Investigation into Russian Meddling in US Election

Democrats have some terrific utterly convincing leaders speaking out on issues that Trumpists are trying their best to muddy or drive some tractor trailer parked in some alley next to the White House to run over. The minority leader on the House Intelligence committee Adam Schiff is so good the media runs to get his take  on any development in the “Obama wiretapped me” story – Trump’s latest self vindication campaign, which, true to form, Trump can’t let go of.  He has to be correct, however debunked, and partly because of Schiff, he is failing.


Push Real Cost Benefit Analysis of Keystone XL Pipeline

Democrats should do “a Schiff” on every issue. When Trump gets out there to announce that the Keystone XL Pipeline Obama had vetoed will be built Democrats should be ready with an immediate statement. Trump shouts out what great creator of employment this will be for America.  That statement can’t be given even 24 hours to work its way into American minds and become a “fact”. There are figures out there that directly debunk the Trump job creation narrative. It is true that some jobs – by one estimate 1,950 direct jobs – will be created, but only for the 2 years building the pipeline would take. After the pipeline is finished the employment plus for America is 35 people. Among other questions that can be asked, is this really worth the climate change downside? This oil will produce 18% dirtier  greenhouse gasses than ordinary crude oil.  Nebraska should be encouraged not to issue a permit, as responding Democrats might recommend.


Push Pro Healthcare Measures*

Big messages are not getting out! The Democratic Party should repeat over and over both at the grassroots and nationally that Trumpcare is/was “a tax cut for the wealthy financed by dropping health care for the needy.”   Trump is getting away with the counterfactual that Democrats are the ones costing Americans money.


Democrats should start a “Don’t Let Trump Subvert Your Healthcare” campaign.  When his American Health Care Act failed he said petulantly that Americans would just have to live with the Obamacare even though it was on a death spiral, and they wouldn’t have to live with it long, because he would also subvert it. If somehow the Republicans start over again on a “replace” bill, undercutting the healthcare Americans have right now, this subversion would be even more his tactic.


The Democrats’ position should be that, instead of working against the interests of his constituents by trying to subvert their healthcare, Trump could:

  1. Fulfill his promise to bring prescription drug prices down by using Medicare bargaining power with drug companies.
  2. Revert to the original ACA provision that called for reimbursing insurers with extraordinary losses in the early years of the exchanges. Sen. Marco Rubio derailed this provision, causing many insurers to flee the exchanges.
  3. Agree to implement the Section 1402 of ACA which requires the government to reimburse insurers for the cost of waiving some deductibles for lower income families.
  4. Maintain annual enrollment period at three months instead of ending it during the holiday period. And restore marketing funds to encourage enrollment.
  5. Upgrade the website.


Start Talking about Tax Cuts

Trump says he wants to move to tax cuts in his legislative agenda.  Democrats should start framing the issue,  tearing apart the idea that they will have benefit for anyone apart from the very, very rich.  The theory of “trickle down” economics – that the newly richer will spend their new riches on investment that will create jobs for Americans in America – has been debunked time and again. Maybe there are income generating ideas the Democrats should start advocating especially at the grass roots level.


Push New Banner Headlines

“Trump Corrupts America”

Elizabeth Spiro Clark

Religious Authoritarianism and the Trump Administration

Analysts have written endless numbers of commentaries to explain why Trump voters voted for him and why they are continuing to support him. “Trump does what he says he is going to do,” they say. “He is authentic”. “Clinton was a crook.” “My identity is being disrespected while undeserving people are being given handouts by the government.” “We can’t afford a higher minimum wage, paid sick leave, maternity leave, healthcare, job protections, public transportation, child day care.” Instead of handouts, they say, government should encourage private enterprise. Trump voters feel they are unfairly disadvantaged economically. They feel their patriotism is not admired. “Money spent on the military is patriotic.” They want to return America to the fifties and the supremacy of white men.

Do these short hand quotes really explain, however, the incredible picture of Trump appointing, almost without exception, incoming heads of departments who vow to destroy both the meaning and the substance of the work of these departments. Even the degree of hatred of anything Obama did is not a powerful enough explanation. After all, the meaning of these departments is to help Americans realize their dreams. To be the American Dream. The best national park system, the best public school system, the best health care, the best public transportation, the safest air, the safest water.   Americans should feel proud of these programs and goals. Instead, on the Trump side, they appear to despise them.

Can the incoming Republican really put as their first priority squashing the homeless, the helpless, the sick, the refugee, the native American trying to preserve his heritage. The answer is: yes, they can. For Republicans, the American Dream is private goods, house, car, vacations, opportunity for my kids. It is not public goods – clean air and water or national parks. Empathy is not part of the American Dream for people who you don’t know or don’t look like you. The Republicans who lack empathy or any sense of community with Americans who are not just like them will not only seem cruel, they will be cruel.

Commentators are missing one large target for explaining the Trump supporter that does not require believing they are all bad people. They need to look at their religious convictions, which the Trump supporters say are guiding their actions and which probably are. Continue reading “Religious Authoritarianism and the Trump Administration”



Donald Trump wants to present himself as a “patriot” who is making America great again so that Americans can feel patriotic again. In fact, all of Trump’s actions diminish America. Shouldn’t Americans want to believe that the world recognizes America has the best health care system, the greatest fast trains, the highest ideals for improving the lives of all who live in the community, the safest air and safest water, is the best guardian of natural resources, all, and many more, achievable goals the Trump Administration seem to find unexciting if not actively repugnant.

Ever since WWII America has been the leader not just in “one on one” bilateral relations with other countries in the world the way Trump, the dealmaker, says  is how he intends to do business,  but in putting together and leading alliances that increase the security and prosperity of all their members. That is what America has been doing until now, with failures as well as successes, but garnering  tremendous primacy and respect.  In the 21st century picking off a country here and there in deal making will achieve little or nothing, except to destroy that respect.

Trump is squandering a priceless American treasure: throughout our history we have presented ideals that are aspirations for all mankind. Nepal in the early 60s, still barely accessible over mountain passes, had a US Information Agency office where its Nepalese director was telling visitors, including this writer, “Lincoln, he is our hero too.” Our national government is the essential element in this leadership and the pride in “public service” of those who work for it within our elected institutions  has brought to all Americans a patriotic  pride in admirable actions that have benefitted both us and the world. Trump apparently feels pride and patriotism that his billionaire cohorts can find new ways to enrich themselves – not the nation.

When President Trump says he will make American “great” again I imagine he would include the beauty of America as part of its greatness. Americans have been singing “Oh Beautiful for Spacious Skies” for a long time and sense the times we sing this anthem as thrilling moments that bind us together.  We can almost see “the amber waves of grain.” Maybe we won’t be able to see them everywhere when Trump realizes his despicable idea of building a wall along the almost 2,000 mile border between Mexico and America. He is not making America “great”, he is making it ugly. Maybe he wants to see the wall as an icon of the America that binds us together, an America that rejects rather than welcomes – “America the Ugly.” What could be more hideous than that unnatural tall dark wall snaking across our beautiful county, reminding us perhaps of the  wall that separated East and West Germany during the cold war, or the walls in Jerusalem today. Trump seems to hope that this symbol of hatred and rejection will become real in the hearts of Americans, immeasurably diminishing us.

–Elizabeth Spiro Clark

   February 21, 2017