I’ve been having a recurring dream.
Nell is tied to the tracks. A large locomotive bears down on her with Snidely Whiplash driving. I’m not immediaately concerned because I know Mountie Dudley Do-Right will appear, rescue Nell and derail Ol’ Snidely once again.
Except - a voice off-screen quietly whispers “Dudley resigned from the Mounties last year and is now head of security at a Calgary Safeway.” Damn! The screen goes blank. But, just before I wake up - I hear “HELP” and SQUISH.
I contacted a gypsy “dream reader” in our little coastal community. Here’s how she explained it. Dudley is really President Obama who’s now gone. Trump - I mean President-Elect Trump - Trump is actually Whiplash in the engine. And Nell? Well, she tells me Nell - tied helplessly to the tracks - is US! ALL of US! “SQUISH!”
There’s more truth than comic fantasy to my little “dream.” Snidely - er, Trump - hasn’t even been given the keys to the White House yet and he’s already tearing up the place.
Following our November election, many of us thought him to be the most unqualified President in our 250+ year history, but there would be traditional “checks-and-balances” to keep him from inflicting severe damage on the body politic. Now, in just nine weeks - all of that’s out the proverbial window. From entire departments of government, down to and including each employee in many of them, he and his “transition team” have begun treating our national structure like a field of stubble that needs burning.
A new Congress is brimming with zealots and willing sycophants already taking their own axes to the “body.” They’ve started swinging away on everything from health care to minimum wage to Planned Parenthood to God-knows-what.
All of this has been duly “reported” by a media, breathless from running from one disaster scene to the next or reading the latest “tweet.” But, none I’ve heard, read or seen has dealt seriously with one subject that really could threaten our national future - an exodus of professionals with the institutional memory and developed skills necessary for federal continuity and effectiveness..
Some cretins in the House have dug up an old government rule allowing Congress to single out an entire department for elimination or a specific employee and reduce that person’s salary to a dollar. Yep, a buck. That way, you can get rid of each one you don’t like for no reason at all and not be sued for wrongful termination. It’s called “The Holman Rule.” It’s been on the books since 1876. It was approved in the House last week and shoved into the Obamacare repealer. It could be used to wipe out entire programs. Think food stamps. Medicare. Housing.
Except - it was declared unconstitutional in the ‘40's. But, that was a different time and a different Supreme Court. Who knows now?
Trump has selected some totally unqualified but wealthy minions to go into these departments, handing each a copy of “The Holman Rule” and expects them to use it. Liberally, if you’ll pardon the word. Rick Perry at EPA or Sessions at Attorney General. Or the rest of the equally in-over-their-heads major donors to his campaign. With a genuine lack of knowledge of their jobs - and this Rule - federal government could be crippled for several generations.
Take it one step further. Suppose you’re mayor of Washington D.C., or governor of Virginia or Maryland where most federal workers live. Can you say “unemployment?” Can you say “exodus?” Can you see a significant eroding of your tax base? Your talent base?
I’m not trying to defend every government employee as one worthy of continued employment. The point is, if allowed to run its course, with unqualified people at the top backed by a Congress full of crazies and a self-important President lacking any skills of governance, we could be watching our nation put at risk on many fronts. Defense, HHS, Agriculture, Treasury, Education, EPA, Attorney General and more.
Trump scares the Hell out of me. For many reasons. He’s not someone who knows boundaries or self-limitations. His head is full of ego-driven ignorance because - like that Palin woman and so many of his ilk - he doesn’t-know-what-he-doesn’t-know and has no desire to learn. He’s a perfect setup for anyone with a crackpot idea like the Holman Rule which could become government policy. His ignorance is a breeding ground in which Putin and other dangerous souls can plant false sincerities, ego-scratching, self-serving relationships and cause Trump to make dangerous - if not world-ending - decisions.
We got lucky once when public outrage forced Congress to back up in that ethics oversight mess. Bottom line, House leadership didn’t want and used the public outcry as support. Pressure like that won’t work every time. They’re working to federally defund Planned Parenthood right now. Where’s the huge public outrage on that?
Little by little, they’re going to keep chipping away. Without sizeable public interference. And, like Nell’s predicament tied to the tracks, Dudley Do-Right won’t be there to “save the day.”
“Ah, to sleep. Perchance to dream.” Those words don’t sound as inviting as they used to.