The republic survived Ronald Reagan; help it survive Donald Trump

The first 100 days of a new administration are crucial

Confirmation hearings and votes are in progress.  Every single one of Trump’s cabinet nominees is bad.  Call the offices of Senators Carper and Coons, asking them to do everything possible to oppose Trump’s nominations.

Especially, oppose the nominee for EPA administrator,  Scott Pruitt.   Even Sen. Tom Carper, no friend of the environment, has been critical of Pruitt.
Sen. Carper DC office: (202) 224-2441
Carper state director, Lori James: (302) 573-6291

(Sen. Carper has offices in DC, Wilmington, Dover, and Georgetown.  Consider visiting in person.)
Sen. Coons DC office: (202) 224-5042
Coons state director, Jim Paoli: (302) 573-6345

(Sen. Coons has offices in DC, Wilmington, and Dover.  Consider visiting in person.)

Trump is not the first monster president.

One of the few benefits of being old is having a lot to remember.

Ronald Reagan became US President in 1981, having defeated Jimmy Carter.  His ideas and policies were similar to Trump’s, although his personality was  quite different.  His background was in acting, and in shilling for General Electric; he was probably used to being told what to think and what to say, but he also seemed to have plenty of bad ideas of his own.

The fear and loathing many people felt for him was similar to how many feel today about Donald Trump.

Reagan pushed tax policies favoring the wealthy, pushed the War on Drugs, increased military spending,  supposedly with the intent of bankrupting the Soviet Union, ignored the growing AIDs epidemic, and did what he could to deny governmental benefits to people, especially poor people.  He terrorized the people of Nicaragua, financing the work with funds from drug smuggling and covert arms sales to Iran.    Reagan’s “puppet military dictators abducted, tortured, murdered and mutilated close to 200,000 civilians in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras in the name of ‘democracy’ and fighting communism.

Reagan systematically appointed agency heads opposed to the missions of the agencies.  He did what he could to dismantle environmental protections and famously said that trees caused more air pollution than cars.  High-ranking EPA official  Rita Lavelle was indicted and imprisoned.  His first EPA Administrator, Anne Gorsuch (Burford), devoted herself to gutting the Agency and keeping lead in gasoline.

His first Secretary of the Interior, James Watt, famously said:, in a speech to the US Chamber of Commerce (about a panel): “I have a black, a woman, two Jews and a cripple. And we have talent.” He opposed to natural resource conservation and environmental protection, once saying “We will mine more, drill more, cut more timber.”  In 1991 Watt reportedly said:  “If the troubles from environmentalists cannot be solved in the jury box or at the ballot box, perhaps the cartridge box should be used.” (In 1995, Watt was indicted on over 20 counts of felony perjury and obstruction of justice by a federal grand jury.)

Reagan’s administration was one of the most corrupt in US history.  Reportedly, by the end of his presidency, 138 administration officials had been  indicted, convicted, or at least investigated for serious criminal offenses related to their official duties.

Reagan, a former union leader, did great damage to the US labor movement.  His firing of striking air traffic controllers was a huge, intimidating blow to unions.  (The strike was technically illegal and the union leadership had gravely misjudged what they were up against.)

“The savings and loan crisis of the 1980s and early 1990s produced the greatest collapse of U.S. financial institutions since the Great Depression.”  This debacle, considered very expensive at the time (estimates range $120-200 billion) was largely caused by corruption and unwise deregulation under Reagan.

Reagan was probably one of the great liars of the 20th Century.


 [Ronald Reagan] … has lied “with such a mastery, with such a great capacity for lying, for saying what is not so, and for saying it with such serenity and such conviction, that I, without becoming angry, felt an enormous sadness.  And there came about a change in my vision of the problem that confronts us …. I though there is more in this than just a pathological obsession …. and one day, alone in my room, I thought that this incredible capacity for lying reveals something like a case of diabolical possession.”—Miguel d’Escoto

Yet, his genial personality, his popularity, were such that the House and Senate only reluctantly stood up to him, and almost all the scandals were blamed on  underlings., many of whom were later pardoned .

While Trump snarls with anger and hostility, Reagan projected a genial-old-guy persona on television.

It’s widely thought that Trump manifests serious personality disorder, while Reagan apparently suffered only from Alzheimers, manifested mainly in his second term and later.

In the mid 80s two auto workers lived in my house.  They were, essentially, refugees from the beginning-to-collapse auto industry in Michigan.  They liked Reagan a lot.  Of course, they knew that their union, the United Auto Workers, didn’t approve of him.  I recall asking if they knew that Reagan was about exporting their jobs, shutting down their pension plans, lowering their pay, curtailing their health benefits, etc.  They just shrugged.  This was a powerful lesson in the power of personality, and of systematic untruth, in determining political outcomes.  It seens no different than Wisconsin workers voting for Scott Walker, or underemployed Kentucky coal or Minnesota iron miners voting for Trump.

Reagan’s actions and inactions as president harmed millions of people.  Tens of thousands were tortured and killed.  Per usual, most of the worst sufferers were outside of the US and had no way to influence on the US government.

Trump, in some ways, seems more dangerous than Reagan.

Reagan was not, for example, openly reliant on support from the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups.  Trump is.  Reagan–for the most part– did not incite openly violence except against “communists” abroad.  Trump does.  The rule of law still functioned well enough to get after the dozens and dozens of Reagan’s corrupt officials.  While Reagan was not known to be personally corrupt, Trump’s whole business career has featured lying and cheating.  Whether Trump is sane, whether he has any sense of restraint, whether the rule of law will hold up against him, remains to be seen.

On the other hand, compared to Reagan, Trump is a particularly repulsive human being.  Most people don’t like him and don’t trust him.  As more Trump voters realize that rather than “draining the swamp,” he’s flooding it with sewage, his support could collapse.

The key point is that the US has been through this before several decades ago, and survived, though with a lot of lasting damage.  Reagan passed.  Trump shall pass.  The damage was limited by relentless resistance at every level and this is what we need now.

We need to understand why and how the artful lie is often more powerful than the complex and ambiguous truth.

The massive marches, of millions, objecting to his Inauguration, are encouraging.

The massive resistance to his recent anti-refugee Executive Order is encouraging.

The defiance of some brave workers in Federal agencies is encouraging.

Trump’s attacks on the environment are just beginning but already serious.  More upcoming on that, but here’s a sample:  “ Trump Attacks the Safety of Our Drinking Water

It’s often said that the first 100 days of a new administration are crucial.  This is when the appointments are made and the policies set.  Resistance begins with pestering “our” representatives in Washington to oppose Trump’s actions and appointments.

Here is some good advice on calling Senators and Congresspeople:


Friends! As some of you know, I used to work on Capitol Hill as the person in charge of all the incoming phone calls to my Senator’s office. I have some insider tips to make calling your reps easier and quicker.

1. Give your name, city, and zip code, and say “I don’t need a response.” That way, they can quickly confirm you are a constituent, and that they can tally you down without taking the time to input you into a response database.

2. PLEASE ONLY CALL YOUR OWN REPRESENTATIVES! Your tally will not be marked down unless you can rattle off a city and zip from the state, or are calling from an in-state area code. I know you really want to give Mitch McConnell a piece of your mind, but your call will be ignored unless you can provide a zip from Kentucky. And don’t try to make this up; I could often tell who was lying before I even picked up the phone from the caller ID. Exceptions to this are things like Paul Ryan’s ACA poll.

3. State the issue, state your position. “I am opposed to a ban on Muslims entering the US.” “I am in favor of stricter gun control legislation including background checks.” “I am in favor of the Affordable Care Act.” That’s it. That’s all we write down so we can get a tally of who is in favor, who is against. It doesn’t matter WHY you hold that opinion. The more people calling, the less detail they write down. Help them out by being simple and direct.

4. Please be nice! The people answering the phones on Capitol Hill already had the hardest job in DC and some of the lowest pay as well, and for a month now their jobs have become absolute murder, with nonstop calls for 9 hours every day. Thank them for their hard work answering the phones, because without them our Senators could not represent us.

What does this sound like?

“Hi, my name is Chris, I’m a constituent from Seattle, zip code 98***, I don’t need a response. I am opposed to any ban on Muslims entering the United States and I encourage the Senator to please oppose implementation of any such ban. Thanks for your hard work answering the phones!” This is how I wish every caller had phrased their message. It makes it easier for the people answering the phones and takes less time and emotion than a long script. I know that you want to say why, but keeping it short and sweet helps the office answer more calls per hour, meaning more people get heard. The bigger the tally, the more powerful our voice. Also, when you’re reading off the same script as 100 other callers that day… well…they can tell.

Pick one issue each day, use this format (I am in favor of _____ or I oppose ______), and call your 2 Senators and 1 Representative on their DC and State Office lines, and you’ll be on your way to being heard.

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