It’s only been 4 days since my last blog post, but the news cycle has already changed several times. Since my last post the most impactful story has been the executive order on immigration and The People’s subsequent revolt. As I’m getting ready to send this out, the Monday Night Masscare is unfolding.
The swift and powerful outcry to the Immigration executive order was inspiring, a perfect demonstration of what the Watchdog/Emergency Response movement can accomplish. People showed up by the thousands at airports across the country. The ACLU, one of the professional Watchdogs, quickly leapt to action and secured several victories in court staying implementation of the ban. However, implementation of the court orders has been chaotic with border agents and the Department of Homeland Security first saying that they were still enforcing the ban in direct defiance of the judicial branch of government’s ruling on the matter, but then rolling it back. There are conflicting reports of whether the ban is currently being enforced.
Either Trump and his administration are completely incompetent or they are intentionally forcing a constitutional crisis. I agree with this author and this author that they are testing boundaries to see what tolerance there is for the executive branch consolidating power to itself. This aligns with the fact that last week’s executive orders set the groundwork for expanding executive power, granting more discretion to Trump and his cabinet members, and requiring frequent reports on a wide range of subjects that Trump and his administration will use to justify further actions, perhaps even “emergency” actions in the future. This includes a weekly report on crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, which may provide a weekly stream of propaganda used to fuel anger towards all immigrants and further divide us against each other so we do not notice they are dismantling our democracy.
There are very difficult times still ahead for us. Other items that dominated the news cycle since Thursday are that Trump essentially demoted the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Director of National Intelligence from the National Security Council and replaced them with Steve Bannon. Several other items that in normal times would dominate the news cycle, like the sweeping expansion of the definition of criminal in Trump’s executive order concerning building the border wall or any of these other alternative facts offered up by the Trump administration almost pass without notice today. Additionally, depending on where you are getting your news, you either know that a right wing terrorist (and Donald Trump fan) attacked a mosque in Quebec, or you believe that an Islamic terrorist attacked a mosque in Quebec.
New Jersey Awakens is in the middle of rolling out its plan to take part in The Resistance. Last week’s Thursday post discusses the role of the Watchdogs and Emergency Response. This week’s post addresses the role of already elected officials and the Democratic Party as The Garrison. Next week will lay out The Offense, because we cannot overcome this if we are acting on defense alone.
Escalation With China
Much of the last few weeks focused on domestic issues, but we should all try to be aware of international issues as well. Donald Trump’s phone call with Taiwan’s president before he was sworn in was widely reported in the media; it was a radical departure from decades of U.S. diplomacy with China that threatened to sour relations between the two countries. Then, China’s seizure of the U.S. drone, and Trump’s tweeted response, made it into the news cycle for a bit.
However, since then, little has been reported concerning U.S. relations with China, which is strange because the Spratly Islands have been the subject of more recent sparring between the White House and China. On January 24th, Press Secretary Sean Spicer stated that the U.S. would be defending its international interests as it relates to the islands, prompting the New York Times editorial section to run a column titled “Trump Injects High Risk Into Relations With China.” This followed a January 11, 2017 statement by proposed secretary of state Rex Tillerson that the United States must “send a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops” and that “access to the those islands is not going to be allowed.” Following through on this statement would almost certainly precipitate war because enforcing it would require confrontation. China’s state run newspapers have said unequivocally that they would regard such an action as an act of war. It’s important to note that these tensions are not completely new; indeed they were building during President Obama’s administration, but Trump’s assumption of the presidency has accelerated the course towards potential confrontation.
Some news outlets, particularly right wing or right of center publications, have begun to talk about the possibility of a war with China. Forbes ran an editorial a few days ago arguing that a U.S. Blockade with Philippines would be justified; the title of the article is “Is War Against China Justified?”. The Washington Times also ran an editorial concerning an impending war between the U.S. and China. Russian and Chinese media are reporting that China has moved intercontinental nuclear missiles to the Russian-China border. Browsing through a search for “China” on Briebart demonstrates that the far right media is very focused on these developments. Watching what is in these publications is important because they may broadcast Trump’s future actions. Is the right wing softening up its base to the idea of a war with China the same way they softened them up to an alliance with Russia?
I’m not trying to stoke fears and the reality is that an actual confrontation with China would be against the interests of both the United States and China, which mitigates against its likelihood. However, personally, I am not confident that our current government is working in our interests, and war, military confrontation with a foreign power, or national emergencies are reliable tactics that would-be authoritarians, fascists, and dictators use to seize control of a country. Here, we have a President who is severely conflicted, a cabinet that is extraordinarily wealthy and some whose families made much of their wealth through prior wars, and a Secretary of State who made his fortune on oil and is closely connected to the oil industry, which could be directly benefited by a war with China over control of the south sea.
In short, this is a cabinet and administration who may benefit from war with China, so it’s a situation that merits careful attention from the media and us.
We need our Democratic leaders, especially those in the House of Representatives, to lead the way in getting Trump out of office as quickly as possible. He and the team around him are a danger to the United States and to all of us.
Two activist groups Free Speech for People and RootsAction have done a lot of the heavy lifting for them. They are updating the actions that Trump takes that support his impeachment, have drafted model legislation that could be used to impeach him, and are working to gain a groundswell of grassroots support. Their website, www.ImpeachDonaldTrumpNow.org, is experiencing some problems, but the homepage is up and you can sign the petition. As we move forward, we must use pressure our Democratic Leaders to take this up. Rep. Jaime Haskin, a freshman legislator, vowed to take this up as his cause; we should stand behind him and propel him into the headlines.
If you run an Indivisible Group or another group that is doing daily calls to action, please pass this petition around your members and lets get cracking on those Democratic officials.
This is not a drill.