Election 2016, The Death of The American Presidency

One of the best photos of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy as I remember him so long ago.

Ever since the election results came in two weeks ago, I’ve been attempting to accurately articulate my reaction. Thinking back over the highlights from the daily news cycles since the election and quickly scanning today’s news while attempting to finally articulate my reaction, the title of this article emerged. In all aspects, my reaction and the associated range of emotions is consistent with those I experienced as a young boy on this fateful day back in 1963, the day President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated.

In what could only be described as a chapter out of a Greek tragedy, the candidate who won the election will not become president. Hillary Rodham Clinton received over 1.7 million more votes than Donald Trump but in a sad twist of fate, tragic as it is ironic, an 18th century safeguard, ostensibly designed to protect the under-represented and thus balance the nation’s widely varying representative demographic, will clear the path for Donald Trump to become the 45th president of the United States; this, of course, if each of the electors of the Electoral College vote as pledged. Shame on them if they perpetrate and legitimize this epic farce and actually elect him.

Even if Donald Trump is sworn in and takes the title of President and comes to reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., he will ape the presidency, he will be a bastard president. The Office of The President is this country’s Head of State and thus, the person who holds this title has to behave accordingly; Donald Trump is simply incapable of such behavior. He lacks the character, intelligence, temperament, discernment and moral judgement to be president. Shame on the Grand Old Party of Abraham Lincoln for choosing him as their candidate for president, an individual who dares to fill the shoes of the humble statesman who, quite literally, saved the republic from destruction at the hands of so many whose progeny today, in a case of perverse and twisted irony, support and voted for Donald Trump and his message of hate. It is sobering and is cause to give one pause when contemplating the near-term events that will follow in eight short weeks, the first African-American president of the US will cede power, relinquishing the Oval Office to a man who was endorsed by the KKK; let that sink in. In the moment Donald Trump sets foot in the Oval Office, the American Presidency as an institution, renown for its power, strength, reach, prestige and influence, will have died. That moment will also represent the death of the US as a constitutional republic and its rise as a fascist state.

Shame on those who voted for him and the mainstream media for the hundreds of hours of free publicity, for helping to enshrine and legitimize hate, racism and bigotry. Shame on them for their ignorance in believing his campaign rhetoric, making many promises that are practically impossible, impracticable or outright illegal and thus for selfishly putting their individual well-being ahead of the collective good of the country and the world; that they believe a billionaire running for the highest political office in the land, a position with almost unlimited power, will care about the plight of the poor, the marginalized, the immigrant, the disenfranchised and the under-represented bespeaks a deep-seated selfishness, ignorance and gullibility.

In many articles, I have described and indeed, warned, what a Trump presidency would mean for the nation and the world. His legacy and the damage he will do will be generational in scope, not only for the nation internally, such as his appointments to the Supreme Court, a legacy and gift that keeps on giving, but for science, scientific exploration, research and progress, education, the economy, health care and the hard-won protections for minorities and the marginalized; we will have lost our prestige and credibility on the world stage and, in a very real sense, be considered a rouge nation, much in the same sense Kim Jong-un’s North Korea is considered a rouge nation with an unstable, intemperate narcissist as its leader.

In characterizing Climate Change as ‘politicized science’, Donald Trump is already beginning his attack on science with his announcement that he plans to eliminate funding for NASA’s Earth Science division, effectively halting the agency’s high-value research and progress into climate change in a rapidly warming and changing environment. That he considers this work ‘politicized’ suggests a profound disconnect with reality and a deep contempt for science and the need for it in a world that is ever more dependent on it, its fruits and its discoveries. With a measurable abatement in atmospheric CO2 levels, significant progress has been made in the application of climate science research and the deployment of green-energy solutions. This country has been playing a leadership role in that progress and, with the ascent of Donald Trump to power, that role will abruptly end.

Moving on beyond the sheer disbelief, the electoral outcome of a number of states who ultimately supported Donald Trump is noteworthy for a variety of reasons. Given the recent and specific histories of these states and how, in some instances, they are at significant risk on many levels, that they would ultimately vote to support Donald Trump would almost suggest widespread vote tampering and fraud given the egregious nature and magnitude of the specific histories. That the respective state’s electorate would ultimately vote to support him beggars belief.


Congressional file photo of former representative Gabrielle Giffords before she suffered a near-fatal gunshot wound to the head

Remember Representative Gabrielle Giffords, the bright, progressive, thoughtful advocate for science in a state that is home to the University of Arizona and the nation’s Astronomical brain-trust? On 8 January, 2011, Representative Giffords was shot in the head at close range by a mentally disturbed individual while she was fielding questions at one of the many town-hall style public meetings she held as representative. She suffered irreparable brain damage and had to ultimately resign as representative of Arizona’s 8th congressional district. The state ultimately voted for Donald Trump, a shill for the gun lobby and recipient of large campaign contributions from the NRA. Shame on Arizona for this odious disregard for one of their own, someone who almost lost her life in their service. With their collective vote to support Donald Trump, they disgrace her memory and diminish her legacy; shame on them!


Remember the debacle regarding lead poisoning and the public water supply for Flint City, Michigan and the Republican governor of that state? In what is no less than a criminal breach of the public trust and incompetence at the highest levels of state government, two years ago Republican Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan ordered a switch in the city’s water supply from Detroit Water to the Flint river, a toxic soup of chemical solvents, lead and other heavy metals. In the recent presidential election, what do you suppose the aggregate will of the state’s electorate was in their choice for president? If your answer was Republican Donald Trump, you would be correct. It would seem to me that the only thing that trumps the state-wide electorate’s ignorance is perhaps their tendency towards self-destruction or masochism in choosing a Republican for president and, in this case, a billionaire present-elect, someone who has about as mach affinity for the low and middle-class and their suffering as a slug.

Louisiana and Texas
This example is multi-faceted and links two states, making one (Louisiana) the victim of the other (Texas) with the two of them ultimately voting for Republican Donald Trump. Remember Hurricane Katrina? Do you remember what happened to New Orleans’ 9th ward? I do; it was underwater following the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina. The Army Corps of Engineers abandoned the Lake Pontchartrain levee reconstruction and reinforcement project at the behest of then President George W. Bush, ironically another Republican president who ascended to power under similarly dubious circumstances. Bush, former Texas governor, diverted huge sums from the levee project to pay for his illegal and ultimately disastrous war in Iraq. Bush disregarded repeated warnings by leading scientists that an Atlantic cyclonic storm above Category 3 would result in a general failure of the levees with disastrous effect for the desperately poor people of New Orleans’ 9th ward. The situation is even worse today with the levees remaining insufficiently fortified for another Katrina-class storm amid dire warnings of accelerating warming with flooding of low-lying coastal regions under even greater threat today. What does Louisiana do? They voted to support another Republican president who believes climate change is a myth! With oil supplying the lion’s share of Texas’ GDP, it is no wonder they voted to support Donald Trump, a shill for big oil and big coal and the recipient of huge campaign contributions from the Koch Brothers Koch Foundation, a front company that advocates for continued expansion of a dying energy source.


Final electoral map of the US following the 2016 General Election

Florida and every other coastal state south of Virginia down the eastern seaboard and west to Texas ultimately voted for Donald Trump, a reality that, again, strains the imagination, so much so, that it is plausible to suggest that the election was hijacked because no one is really that mentally challenged. The low-lying regions of every one of these coastal states are at greater risk now than they were when Hurricane Katrina literally put New Orleans’ 9th ward under water but yet they collectively voted for Donald Trump, an incoming president who doesn’t believe Climate Change is real and who has threatened to do everything in his power to put the brakes on the continuing progress towards a sustainable-energy future. Although Florida voted decidedly for Donald Trump, a significant portion of Miami-Dade county that includes downtown Miami and South Beach voted for Hillary Clinton. This isn’t surprising given that flooding is already regularly occurring in certain low-lying sections of the city, so much so, that the city’s transportation sector has changed its schedule according to the occurrence of high tide and the phases of the moon, two factors that directly effect the rising and falling of the water level. It is projected that by 2035, whole regions of the city will be perpetually submerged due to the rising sea level.

That Trump’s choice for EPA Administrator is Myron Ebell, a shill for the oil and coal industry who holds no degrees in science and who simply can’t wait to begin dismantling the very agency began by President Richard Nixon, is no surprise. [Update 2016-12-07]: Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, Donald Trump has finally settled on Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the EPA. In a gesture farcical as it is ironic, in a case of crass disdain for the EPA’s mission, legacy and accomplishments, Mr. Trump has appointed the very individual who, in his role as that state’s AG, has sued the very agency he has now been tapped to lead. That the agency was fulfilling its role, mandated by law, in protecting the nation and, ultimately the world, from the egregious polluters that now have bought and paid for the three branches of this country’s government has, apparently been lost on AG Pruitt and Mr. Trump.

At the moment, Mr. Trump is choosing his cabinet and his picks for the respective positions are what would be expected from him. That very few of them are actually qualified for their respective positions notwithstanding, it isn’t surprising that they represent the self-same toxic swamp Mr. Trump wanted to “drain”. Trump’s picks for DOE, in a word, are not scientists but representatives from big oil, coal and industry. By contrast, the current Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz, Ph.D is a thoughtful yet brilliant scientist and scholar in his own right. Earning his Ph.D in Theoretical Physics from Stanford University, Moniz is one of the founding members of The Cyprus Institute and has served at Massachusetts Institute of Technology as the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems, as the Director of the Energy Initiative, and as the Director of the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment. It is instructive to note and contrast the credentials of the outgoing Secretary of Energy and those on the short-list picks for that same post by the incoming president. The stark contrast between them isn’t surprising and is consistent with the character, intelligence and background of the individuals who have appointed them.

All our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike-and yet it is the most precious thing we have

An index of all articles in this blog can be found here.


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