Vol. 12    No. 5
March 2, 2017
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                                                            Con Game
This has been the weirdest transition of power in the federal government that I have ever witnessed in my 64 years on this earth. It has all been
a death-defying — I hope — circus act. I say death-defying because I can’t help but feel that the future of our Republic and Democracy is at stake
here.

Way back in my graduate student days at UW-Madison, I was working part-time at a gas station to make ends meet when I was the victim of a
con game. A guy came in and I ended up giving him change after he purchased gas and then he asked me to also make change a large-
denomination bill. In the middle of counting the money out, he distracted me with something and then got me to count out more than the bill I was
making change for. I felt very foolish when I realized that I had been conned and stayed focus forever after that.

Well I can’t — as well as countless others — feel that President Trump has been a clown — complete with orange hair — since he won the
presidency. Whenever he does or says something, the comments are filled with trolls from every persuasion denouncing or defending Trump’s
comments. And the comments about Trump get very personal and negative and snide and then the comments about those attacking Trump get
very personal and snide. And along the way, the thread of the conversation bears no resemblance at all to the original news story.

And I know that these commentators find some joy in their crass repartee. But I can’t help but feel as if this is part of some broader design.

A long, long time ago, I read Isaac Asimov’s science fiction trilogy The Foundation Series. Asimov was always a thought-provoking writer who
used science fiction to probe deeper societal issues. The Foundation Series was almost like Star Wars, in a way. It dealt with political
machinations where no one really knew who was the leader of the movement. A member of a wandering band of protagonists in the novel was a
clown who kept everyone humored and appeared to be without thought. But in the end, it is revealed that it was the clown who was the leader of
the political machinations.

And I can’t help but feel that Trump is this clown who has distracted everyone with his outlandish behavior and cruel ways of referring to people
with whom he disagrees. And people laugh at Trump and wonder how he ever became president and talk about him being a disgrace.
But behind this façade, this outlandish behavior, things are happening in Washington, D.C. and most of are too distracted to realize the impact
that these silent machinations could have on our lives and our ability to influence the government that is supposed to be by, for and of the people.
A long-time friend, Cherlynn Stevens, who lives in Washington, D.C., posted the following list of bills that are now being considered by Congress:

1. HR 861 Terminate the Environmental Protection Agency
2. HR 610 Vouchers for Public Education
3. HR 899 Terminate the Department of Education
4. HJR 69 Repeal Rule Protecting Wildlife
5. HR 370 Repeal Affordable Care Act
6. HR 354 Defund Planned Parenthood
7. HR 785 National Right to Work (this one ends unions)
8. HR 83 Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Bill
9. HR 147 Criminalizing Abortion (“Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act”)
10. HR 808 Sanctions against Iran

And under the veneer of “alternative facts” and outright BS, Trump and his surrogates are preparing and implementing executive orders that
could negatively impact the lives of millions of families in the United States.

The Trump Administration has left DACA intact and yet now there are reports of people — including Dreamers — being arrested and being placed
in the deportation process. Trump says nothing has changed, but actions speak louder than words.

And the Trump Administration is preparing a new executive order that will be a slipperier version of the “Muslim Ban” that he tried to implement
earlier. It is also reported that Trump is preparing an executive order on immigration. And who knows what else is being done and prepared in
the shadows of the façade that is Trump’s narcisstic self. And with people being distracted by Trump’s over-sized personality, will they be
adequately prepared to fight the policies that Trump and his minions have aimed to implement all along?

It is interesting that the Republican leadership in the House is threatening any of its members who waver from repealing Obamacare. These
legislators have gone back home and realized that the support for ACA and Obamacare is more widespread than they thought, including amongst
some of their own constituency. I remember in 2010 when were some Democrats were defeated for reelection after they voted for Obamacare
because of the pressure they received from the Democratic leadership. I anticipate the irony of Republican legislators being defeated in 2018
because they were forced to vote for the repeal of Obamacare by the Republican leadership. Who says history doesn’t repeat itself?

It is important that people not be distracted by the clown that is Donald Trump and stay focused on working against the almost totalitarian and
draconian policies that the conservative and well-financed Republican Party seeks to make in law, policies that will ensure that they remain in
power even though they are not supported by the majority of Americans.

Don’t be deceived!
Helping Fathers Be Fathers
Leotha Stanley and the Urban League’s
Fatherhood Program