Trump Uses State of Disunion Speech to Take Shots at Workers

Springfield  President Trump came into his first State of the Union speech marking the end of his first year in office with the lowest level of popular support for his job performance in modern times with only 37% of the American people approving his work according to polls.  Perhaps unsurprisingly he used the opportunity to dog whistle his base by taking shots at workers both large and small.

Part of the red meat of the right is attacking federal workers as bureaucrats and bums, and Trump seemed to be calling for an end to civil service protections for federal workers, saying he would “…call on Congress to empower every cabinet secretary with the authority to reward good workers and to remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people.”  That’s a scary statement that seems to call for something somewhere between a purge and a witch hunt based of the whims of a totally political appointee, which is what all cabinet secretaries are.  What objective standards might possibly fairly determine among the millions of federal workers, who had undermined “public trust” or failed “the American people?  Given Trump’s random broadsides at the Justice Department, State Department, and any number of others when they seemed to displease him, his remarks seem to be a call for an open season on any workers at any level that displease them so that they could be fired immediately.

This isn’t about the “spoils system,” which is part of the reason the federal civil service and others protections in most cities and states were created in order to prevent politicians from just randomly eliminating hard working civil servants to hire their buddies as part of their patronage.  Last reports there were still thousands of appointments still not tendered by the administration for jobs that were exclusively political, rather than civil service qualified.  Trump already has more jobs available for his sycophants than he seems to have people ready and willing to serve.  This is all about a federal worker equivalent of his old reality show that he wants to make his new reality show from the White House where he can tweet “you’re fired” at every federal worker who offends him that minute.  That’s not why we change a civil service system, that’s why we have a civil service system!

The precedent that Trump is trying to leverage here is the “Veterans Administration Accountability Act,” passed by Congress last June, which gives expedited firing authority to the VA chief. According to a White House fact sheet distributed during the speech, 1,470 VA employees were fired between the law’s enactment and the end of 2017, with 443 suspended and 83 demoted.”  This program has been controversial and was triggered by problems in service delivery by the VA, and many believe this is the wolf trying to cover itself in the sheep’s clothing of that scandal in an effort to privatize the VA itself, despite its sterling record of offering top of the line health care and cost controls for millions of veterans.

The American Federal Government Employees union and the National Treasury Employees Union both immediately condemned these remarks.  Some also thought this was a guise for Trump’s attack on the Justice Department not bending to his will and whim.  The threat is meant to intimidate and chill the rights of federal workers, but these are also the words of a tyrant on try out, so his calls must be rejected.


Why Would Casino Operators Behavior Surprise Us?

Stephen Wynn, chairman and chief executive of Wynn Resorts, with his wife, Andrea Hissom. Fallout from the disclosure of allegations of sexual misconduct against Mr. Wynn mounted on Friday. Credit Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call, via Getty Images

Lafayette          The #MeToo moment is not yet over.  The Wall Street Journal broke a story on the front page on the sexually abusive and harassing behavior of Las Vegas based, global casino mogul, Stephen Wynn, long a billionaire legend as well as a transactional donor to politicians and political parties, and currently a big hitter with the Republicans now that his buddy, and former casino operator, Donald Trump is president.

The Journal reporters pulled the rope tightly on this story.  Nobody came looking for them, but they interviewed 150 people with stories to tell.  None of the tales were as far on the spectrum as the de facto rapes that have been alleged by Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Bill Cosby and Russell Simmons, but Wynn nudges close to that line in what he demanded in the power imbalance of a billionaire to many of his masseuses and other rank-and-file employees and subcontractors.  What he clearly wanted, and was sometimes getting, was more than a back rub for his $1000 in case for the treatment.  His defense is to finger point at the long ranging lawsuit with his former wife, and claim it was all vengeful make believe.  Sorry, Stevie, one-hundred fifty voices calling you name makes this more than a courtroom financial wheeler dealer situation.

Additionally, the Journal points out that the Wynn situation is a first.  Obviously, it’s not a first when it comes to old, rich men sexually harassing and exploiting women under their thumbs, but it is the first time the head of a big company that is publicly traded in the stock exchange has been caught with his pants so far down and totally exposed.  The market dropped the shares of his company by 10%.  It is also first time one of these exploiters has been caught in a company that is publicly regulated according to the Journal, although that claim is harder to sort out.  Indeed, the gaming commission in the state of Massachusetts has said they will investigate and look at the requirements of their license for the $2.5 billion casino Wynn is currently building in the state.

Let’s agree that he’s gotten himself in a mess and whatever happens next is his just dessert, though we can predict his fall will be complete and total within days.   My first reaction was shocking to me:  I wasn’t surprised.  No matter how many millions and billions are spent creating the peculiar environments that make up casinos, they are inherently sleazy, and that’s part of their appeal.  To create a business which is based on the vast majority of customers losing money, the real appeal has to be somewhere else, and it likes in the culture that advertises that “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”

Furthermore, for all the hue and cry, if you take another casino operator out of the sleaze and sizzle that defines that enterprise where everyone is a mark ready to be fleeced, doesn’t that also explain the behavioral entitlement and objectification of women that also defines Donald Trump, as well as his operating ideology and political philosophy?

Apples don’t roll far from the tree or in this case the roulette wheels.