Trump’s Evangelical War on Women Goes Global

If not for the flood of news regarding guns and Trump’s Russian problem, there may have been more reporting on yet another in a long line of Trump’s attacks on women on behalf of the religious right.

This administration has been on a tear in its relentless assault on women’s reproductive and equal rights since Trump’s poorly attended inauguration, and now it is obvious that a leaked White House memo last October outlining the escalation in the evangelical war in 2018 was not an aberration.

Instead of attempting to stealthily subvert women’s rights, the Trump administration is making it known globally that going forward, America does not regard women’s reproductive rights, or discrimination based on sex, gender, race and ethnicity as any kind of priority. Of course a couple of Americans are aware this evangelical-driven administration is engaged in a vicious war against women, the LGBTQ community and people of color, but it is stunning that the administration is making a global statement affirming to the world that Trump’s nasty evangelical agenda is official policy. Don’t believe it?

Last week current and former State Department officials say they were ordered to eliminate passages in its annual report on global human rights  that “traditionally discuss[es] women’s reproductive rights and discrimination.” It is a clear signal that Trump and his religious Republican cabal are serious about putting women in a place America’s religious patriarchs believe they belong – as second class citizens at the mercy of evangelicals.

It is also clear that Trump is giving a nod to other patriarchal nations that controlling women and subverting their human, equal, and reproductive rights is approved by America. It is a gross departure from America’s leadership on women’s rights under President Obama’s administration and what Trump and his acolytes insist is making America great again.

Politico reported that someone at the State Department, likely an aide to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, ordered officials to omit any mention of women’s reproductive rights and discrimination on the basis of sex, race, and ethnicity in its annual human rights report to reflect America’s new global focus. Trump’s message is that America is not concerned with human rights for women, people of color, or the LGBTQ community, and that women’s reproductive rights are officially under an evangelical assault. The dirty pig did pledge to the radical anti-women’s movement that the White House was firmly behind the evangelical crusade while boasting of his religious assault on women’s right of self-determination so far during his brief tenure in a place he does not belong.

Apparently, the evangelicals driving Trump’s anti-women’s rights crusade are hoping other nation’s will follow the United States in attacking women’s rights and legalizing discrimination for religious bigots. It is also likely that someone at the State Department is aware that any American report mentioning women’s reproductive and equal rights will put the focus on the Trump administration’s violations.

In past annual reports there were extensive details on women’s reproductive rights, but Trump’s evangelicals believe reproductive rights are an abomination leading the administration to attack them with a vengeance. In fact, in the “soon-to-be released report,” a section that was previously titled “Reproductive Rights” has been changed to “Coercion in Population Control.”  That phrase is as bad as it sounds and frames family planning and women’s reproductive rights advocates as tyrannical monsters.

The immediate meaning and reason for the name change is to portray advocates of women’s reproductive rights are part of a plot to force contraception, sterilization, and abortion on the rest of humanity. The anti-reproductive rights movement claims the only solution to those governments that are “coercing women” to stop reproducing is to abandon “reproductive rights” and promote the only Vatican approved method of “birth control,” the high failure rate rhythm method.

According to one current official at the State Department, the directive is intended to “send a clear signal that women’s reproductive rights are not a priority for this administration, and that it’s not even a rights violation we must or should report on.” However, the “official” Trump State Department spokesperson, Heather Nauert, said that completely stripping  entire passages about family planning, access to contraception and abortion, and another section dealing with discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity and sex was to bring some  “clarity and focus” to America’s foreign policy agenda.

Ms. Nauert said the move had nothing to do with “downgrading coverage of LGBT or women’s issues” like Trump began immediately after his poorly attended inauguration. If the statistics were included in the annual report, an inordinate amount of space would have to be devoted to the Trump administration’s rampant and relentless religious attacks on women’s reproductive rights.

Thus far Trump’s evangelical war on women includes giving religious employers authority to withhold contraceptives from their employees according to their Vatican-inspired belief that any “artificial” means of birth control is abortion; probably as remuneration for the religious rights’ electoral support. As part of the payment, Trump’s Health and Human Services Department mission statement was rewritten to include “personhood” language denoting a single-cell organism (zygote) as a living person worthy of federal government support.

Trump’s evangelical Health, and Human Services have twice dealt women’s rights a serious setback and like the State Department action, it had everything to do with bringing “clarity and focus” that Trump’s war on women is driven by religion. In both cases, women are relegated to third-class status and religious extremists gained federal authority to discriminate against women with impunity.

In that leaked memo from October outlining the 2018 war on women tactics, although it did not mention the State Department’s action, it did promise that one of the first acts is to “gut all funding” for any evidence-based pregnancy prevention programs. Instead, that funding will be transferred to evangelicals to promote failed “abstinence only education” and “fertility awareness programs” as family planning. It is noteworthy that the so-called “fertility awareness program” is the only Vatican approved method of family planning because it is not artificial – it is the failed  “rhythm method.”

America’s leadership internationally in several areas has suffered the Trump administration and international organizations are well aware that equal and human rights are no exception. Now it is glaringly obvious that women’s reproductive rights, like equal rights, are not any kind of priority for America domestically or globally, and that should concern the rest of the civilized world. The only “clarity and focus” the State Department is projecting by omitting of any mention of women’s reproductive rights is that the domestic assault on women driven by the theocrats running America is going global.

Image: Stephanie Keith/Reuters]

Trump’s State Department Poses a Grave National Security Threat

It is a travesty that one man has swiftly tarnished America’s reputation on the world stage, but it is increasingly apparent that it is part of Trump’s plan to isolate America from the rest of the civilized world.

An integral element of Trump’s isolationism plan is dismantling the country’s ability to conduct foreign affairs with other nations without inciting new tensions or inflaming long-simmering hostilities. So it is little surprise that Trump’s oil industry CEO is actively dismantling the one agency tasked with “skillfully conducting relations with other nations” without arousing animosity or increasing enmity – the Department of State.

No sane human being could keep a straight face and say Donald Trump understands or embraces the concept of diplomacy, even on a rudimentary level. In fact, Trump is the embodiment of a rude and abrasive bully that makes enemies at the rate most people use a toilet. That lack of appreciation for the art of existing in a complex, and often antagonistic, world without being in a constant state of aggression epitomizes Donald Trump and belies his so-called “deal-making” acumen. It also explains why Rex Tillerson is purging the Department of State of highly-qualified career Foreign Service professionals that are one of the most valuable assets in keeping America safe, and the world from a perpetual state of war.

The New York Times reported late last week that long-serving diplomats are finally speaking out about Vladimir Putin’s love interest Rex Tillerson and the wholesale purge going on at the State Department. In an August Los Angeles Times article it was reported that “current and former State Department officials say it appears that one goal in the current reorganization is to reduce staff by attrition, what one critic called ‘death by a thousand cuts.’”

Apparently there is not a question of Tillerson’s motive in decimating the diplomatic positions en masse; “experts have been aware of Tillerson’s plot to destroy the State Department from the inside for months.”

For an idea how little Tillerson, as surrogate for Trump, thinks of America’s diplomats or their safety, it is worth noting how he disregards congressional legislation regarding how the Department functions. Despite Congress passing legislation in 2012 mandating that the top State Department security official have unrestricted access to Tillerson, he spent the first nine months in office refusing to meet with the State Department’s chief of security, Bill A. Miller. The New York Times reported that during those first nine months Tillerson turned down repeated, including urgent, requests from Miller and security staff to brief him according to the Bureau of Diplomatic Security officials.

The only way the top security guy, Mr. Miller, could be “allowed to speak to Mr. Tillerson” was after he forced the issue by citing the letter of the law and the requirement that he had to be given ‘unrestricted access’ to the country’s head diplomat, Tillerson. Miller was eventually “granted” just five minutes in Tillerson’s presence; despite the congressional mandate of “unrestricted access.”

Shortly thereafter, the career Foreign Service officer and chief of security was “pushed out” of the State Department. Mr. Miller joined a veritable parade of the State Department’s most senior diplomats as part of Tillerson’s “downsizing” effort. Instead of going quietly like Miller, other “departing” diplomats are making their sentiments, and concerns about the fate of the nation, a public issue. The diplomats speaking out may have had an impact on members of Congress who are raising their own questions about why Trump and Tillerson are “intentionally hollowing-out” the senior diplomatic ranks and “weakening” America on the global stage in the process.

Last week  the House Foreign Relations Committee issued a letter to Tillerson citingwhat they said was “the exodus of more than 100 senior Foreign Service officers from the State Department since January.” In the letter, Democrats expressed their concern about  “the intentional hollowing-out of our senior diplomatic ranks.” (author bold)

Members of the Senate also noticed that Tillerson was “deconstructing” America’s diplomatic corps at a time the nation can least afford to appear weakened or unwilling to discourse without using Twitter insults. In a bipartisan effort, Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) sent Tillerson a letter similar to the House version expressing their concern. They warned the Putin-ally Tillerson that:

America’s diplomatic power is being weakened internally as complex global crises are growing externally.”

Most likely members of Congress are acutely aware that Trump has no intent in using America’s vanishing “diplomatic power” to deal with any international issues, much less “complex global crises;” he has a smart phone and a Twitter app.  Trump makes bizarre and offensive pronouncements and blatant threats as willingly as he pulls America out of international agreements; he has no use for diplomacy.

Tillerson has been on a dangerous  tear pushing senior diplomats out with no intent on replacing them since he assumed control; almost certainly under orders from Trump. In fact, about a month ago former Secretary of State, Republican Colin Powell warnedthe Trump administration that gutting the State Department posed a grave national security threat. Trump’s national security advisor told Mr. Powell the “purge” was because senior diplomats were “people who did not support the president’s agenda;” like conducting foreign policy matters through Twitter. Trump said at the time that he didn’t need diplomats because “I am the only one that matters.” He also said he wasn’t sure if he even needed Rex Tillerson; an ominous sign that an even more serious State Department purge could be in the offing.

Remember, in August Trump thanked his and Tillerson’s love interest Vladimir Putin for “cutting the diplomatic staff in Moscow” when he expelled 750 diplomats; Trump said they were not going to be replaced. It is also noteworthy that in keeping with Trump’s enmity towards women and minorities, disproportionate numbers of diplomats being “pushed out” are women and people of color. And Tillerson has not nominated anyone to fill any of the 34 top political positions still vacant at the State Department.

It is no secret that Trump’s intent for the government is dismantling as much of it as he can legally get away with; his various cabinet and agency appointees are sworn enemies of the departments they control. And despite how dangerous it is to suffer an administration openly dedicated to “deconstructing the administrative state,”  it is perilous beyond words to have a White House occupant directing his Secretary of State to deliberately destroy American “diplomatic power” from within.

It leaves one to ponder if Tillerson is, like Trump, doing Vladimir Putin’s bidding by reducing America’s diplomatic power, or if diplomatic solutions to  global issues are completely off the table in Trump’s America.  No matter what their motivation, Trump and Tillerson have transformed the State Department into a grave national security threat because according to Trump, he’s the only one that matters.

Trump Thanked Putin For Cutting America’s Diplomatic Corps

While many Americans are rightfully concerned that Trump is playing to a big-time wrestling script with thermonuclear war as possible result, the reality show character’s close relationship with Vladimir Putin is not commanding much news coverage. However, yesterday while some Americans were considering building bomb shelters in their backyards, Trump showed that he still embraces Russia and continues rejecting America and more importantly, its diplomats.

No doubt Trump has yearned for a reason to thank Putin for his valuable (campaign) support over the last year-and-a-half, but that would just further implicate his complicity in Russia’s attack on democracy. Still, Trump found a way to express his gratitude to Putin and “stab American diplomats in the back” in the process; because diplomats prevent wars.

When Trump was asked what his thoughts were on Putin expelling about 775 diplomats from Russia as retaliation for new congressionally-mandated sanctions, he seized the occasion to express how “very thankful” he was that Putin expelled hundreds of American diplomats from Russia. He even explained why he was grateful.

Trump said:

I want to thank him [Putin] because we’re trying to cut down our [State Department] payroll, and as far as I’m concerned I’m very thankful that he let go a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll. There’s no real reason for them to go back. I greatly appreciate the fact that we’ve been able to cut our payroll of the United States. We’re going to save a lot of money.”

No sane person thinks Trump was being facetious in offering his gratitude to Putin; no small number of diplomats and foreign policy experts have bemoaned loudly that Trump’s refusal to even partially staff the State Department is a gargantuan disaster waiting to happen. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is rabid about cutting down on diplomats, and the idea that Trump wants a non-functioning State Department has nothing to do with “saving a lot of money.” He is more than willing to spend a “lot more money” on bombs and bullets in one fiscal year than it costs to run the State Department for a decade.  Trump and his key alt-right advisors ardently believe that the best way to conduct foreign policy with any country is not diplomacy; they love threats, belligerence, bullying and war. It is the worldview Trump has demonstrated over the past few days in the grandest fashion imaginable.

There have been several reports that the State Department is woefully understaffed with no plans, or intent whatsoever, to fill those positions. And they are crucial positions around the world that do not include janitorial or kitchen help jobs. This danger is not all down to Trump, but it is likely he directed Secretary of State Tillerson not to bother himself with putting up nominees for “low priority” positions such as assistant secretary for diplomatic security. Some Americans may recall that Republicans consider diplomatic security at the bottom of their low-priority concerns to explain why the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi lacked adequate security and protection.

As many former diplomats and foreign policy experts have noted, there is much “more than an ineffectual State Department here, there is real danger.” The real danger is when, not if, something in the world goes terribly wrong like when a poor manager and inexperienced malcontent issues biblically-inspired threats of “fire and fury like the world has never seen.” Every administration faces crises throughout their tenure, and everything falling on Trump stems from the rest of the world’s perception that he is a sap and those foreign policy crises are only going to increase in number and frequency. As noted in the Washington Post, America’s foes feel emboldened with an incompetent in the White House.

They also state the peril of Trump endangering national security by not filling important diplomatic positions; or worse, thanking a hostile foreigner for “cutting down our [diplomatic] payroll and letting a lot of people go.”

It is frightening to imagine what happens when “a crisis erupts in an area of the world that Tillerson hasn’t bothered to staff,” or another attack on an embassy occurs when Tillerson has not bothered to put up a nominee for assistant secretary for diplomatic security? “Tillerson and the president Trump will be in deep trouble.

Remember too that Trump claimed filling his administration with billionaires with exemplary business backgrounds would ensure that his government will have better management and only the very best people will be employed. “Instead they cannot perform the most basic management task of an administration — picking personnel.”

A career foreign service officer who served as an ambassador to Poland in the Clinton Administration and on the National Security Council under Bush really put Trump’s idiocy and third-rate management skills under a spotlight with two simple rhetorical questions. Dan Fried asked:

Under what theory of management is there not an assistant secretary for Europe or Asia?”  And, “How do you make an administration effective when your institutions are weak?

Trump believes his administration is effective because he controls one powerful institution; the United States military and its robust nuclear arsenal. It is likely why he said the hundreds of diplomats “Putin let go to cut America’s State Department payroll” are not going back. It is also highly likely that since Secretary of State Tillerson is BFFs with Putin, Trump believes diplomats are unnecessary; Putin will help Tillerson run the State Department and probably help him cut the diplomatic payroll even more.

It is particularly prescient right now that Trump is demonstrating what he thinks of diplomats or seeking a diplomatic solution to end his nuclear pissing match with the North Korea’s version of Donald J. Trump. One thing is crystal clear after Trump’s showy display of gratitude for some Rusky budget cutting assistance; Trump is too enamored and thankful to ever get into a pissing match with Vladimir Putin.

Trump Budget Reveals How the Kochs Will Dismantle the Government

This author has warned, for at least six years, that if Republicans ever gained control of the entire government, that at the behest of their corporate masters the Koch brothers they would begin immediately dismantling the federal government. Trump’s number one counselor, fascist Stephen Bannon, said as much earlier this year when he bragged that the administration’s chief goal in appointing corporate billionaires, perjurers, and religious freaks to Trump’s cabinet, freaks and billionaires nominated by the teabagger-run Heritage Foundation, was to “dismantle the administrative state.” The administrative state is a not-so-subtle code for the United States government.

In Trump’s “proposed” budget for the next fiscal year, a so-called “skinny budget” the Heritage Foundation proposed a month ago, does exactly what the preponderance of Republicans indebted to the Koch brothers support; begin the dismantling of the federal government to satisfy a dream the Koch brothers championed over 30 years ago. Trump’s cohorts didn’t even attempt to hide the fact that the budget came directly from Heritage Foundation and the Kochs because they gave it the same exact name, the skinny budget, as the Heritage Foundation’s proposal last month.

The New York Times reported that Trump will unveil an even “skinnier” budget later in the spring that includes the Koch-Heritage plan to give massive tax cuts to the rich and corporations and dismantle even more of the administrative state. Phase two will assault Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and every other domestic social program serving the overwhelming majority of the population. However nasty the Republicans’ replacement for the Affordable Care Act appears, it is the world’s greatest socialist giveaway compared to what Trump will do to the government and the people it belongs to with the Koch-Heritage budget.

Although it is true the budget outlined this morning has to get past the Koch-Republican Congress, there is little doubt that except for drastic cuts to the Department of State, Koch-aligned Republicans will gleefully aid their funders in dismantling the government agencies that serve the people. Besides funneling tens-of-billions robbed from social programs, education, scientific research, and environmental protections to fund Trump’s “wars America has to start winning,” it will significantly reduce the “non-defense federal workforce” to rapidly kill tens-of-thousands of jobs.

According to the fascists running the executive branch, Trump and Bannon, the “skinny budget” “will reset the process of Washington policy making” from a policy of serving the “general welfare” of the people to a policy that serves the rich and their corporations exclusively, as well as the military industrial complex.

To demonstrate the Trump’s malice towards humanity, besides slashing the Environmental Protection Agency by over a third, there are drastic reductions to the “60-year-old State Department Food for Peace Program, which sends food to poor countries hit by war or natural disasters.” It makes sense that an administration promising to win more wars would take drastic measures against any program for peace, or diplomacy – that is the purpose of cutting the State Department budget. Just to show how petty the Trump-Heritage budget is, it completely eliminates the Department of Transportation’s Essential Air Service program because it subsidizes flights to rural airports. It is a signal to the country bumpkins who voted for Trump that his agenda never, never ever, not even once took their needs into consideration and instead takes as much as possible from the people.

For example, Trump is expected demand “a wide array of cuts to public education, to transportation programs like Amtrak and to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, including the complete elimination of the $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program, which funds popular programs like Meals on Wheels, housing assistance and other community assistance efforts.” It is a preview of what Trump means by “resetting the process of Washington policy making” that his chief strategist Bannon labeled “deconstructing the administrative state.

As expected, it is the cuts to the EPA that will impact Americans as detrimentally as the GOP’s draconian healthcare plan. And although thousands of Americans won’t die quickly for lack of affordable, or any, healthcare, Americans will die to enrich corporations. The NYT pointed out that as expected, the Koch-Heritage proposed cuts to the EPA “are a magnitude greater even than those envisioned by congressional Republicans, many of whom forcefully oppose the agency’s regulatory agenda.”

As an example, last year the Republican-controlled House spending subcommittee setting the EPA budget proposed reductions that still funded the agency at $8 billion. At the time, the Koch-Republicans in the House only cut $291 million from President Barack Obama’s last requested funding amount for the EPA; not anywhere near the $2.6 billion demanded by Trump. The EPA cuts are so drastic that Representative Ken Calvert (R-CA) said he never imagined having to cut the wildly-popular EPA “state grant programs that fund projects like restoring the Great Lakes and cleaning and redeveloping formerly contaminated industrial sites;” a cost that should be borne by the corporations responsible for the contamination like the lead still poisoning the water in and around Flint Michigan.

The NYT is patently wrong in claiming that both the current “skinny budget” and the “skinnier budget” to be unveiled later this Spring demonstrates the level of chaos, inexperience and staffing dysfunction in the Trump White House. Of course, the administration is all those things and so much more, but everything in the current and soon-to-be-released attack on government has been in the works for decades, more likely a generation or two going back to the New Deal. There is nothing chaotic or inexperienced in the Koch brothers’ vision of dismantling the government.

Some Senate Republicans have been critical of the Bannon-Trump proposal to slash funding for the State Department, but because they are so intricately tied, and heavily indebted, to the Koch brothers, there is little doubt they will revel in finally getting to do their part dismantling the federal government they have shown nothing but contempt for. But that makes sense for Republicans and their teabagger-conservatives who hate the government as much as they hate the American people and the U.S. Constitution.