Serving up rage and revenge – by Deborah Levine

Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press 

Biden continues with a presidential transition while an enraged Trump plants land mines and trip wires. Tump’s niece predicted the situation saying, Hes not going to engage in the normal activities that guarantee a peaceful transition. All hes got now is breaking stuff, and hes going to do that with a vengeance.” I’ll be even blunter. Trump has declared war on democracy.

Trump is fracturing our country by charging Attorney General Barr to seek out fraud even though most court cases have ruled that there’s little evidence to back up his claims. He’s breaking traditions by refusing to authorize access to government officials, office space in agencies and national security tools provided to transition teams of President-Elects.

True destruction is in Trump’s cross-hairs and his revenge firings signal that a battle to the death has begun. I’m holding my breath after the demotion of Neil Chatterjee, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), whose opinions on carbon mitigation included reductions in human emissions of greenhouse gases. A key climate report was just made invisible. Will our remaining environmental protections be decimated? Alarms really went off over the dismissal of Secretary of Defense Mike Esper who didnt support using active-duty troops against protesters. Esper said that if his replacement is a real yes man” then God help us.” Three guesses about his replacement and the first two don’t count.

Even more concerning is the “immediate resignation” of Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). This is a quasi-independent entity recently moved more fully under the Department of Energy. Some  predict a dismantling of the agency altogether. But there are also vague references to “rogue actors” who are against nuclear weapons modernization.   

What might nuclear modernization mean? There are 400 intercontinental ballistic missiles (IBMs) armed with thermonuclear warheads in silos from Colorado to Wyoming. Kept on high alert in case of a nuclear attack, these ICBMs were central to our nuclear weapons technology sixty years ago. But today, our bombers are more accurate, our submarines are more powerful, and the silos are like sitting ducks.

The Union of Concerned Scientists says that there’s no further need for these ICBMs. Yet, Trump’s administration proposed a $100 billion plan for 662 new ICBMs in 2021. The plan is moving forward. While a congressional budget amendment was proposed to cut some of the $1.5 billion for ICBM research and transfer the money to pandemic efforts, it died in committee. Why is this happening?

The first answer is “Follow the Money”. Defense contractors are salivating over building a fleet of new ICBMs. Politicians want to keep ICBM-related jobs in their states. So money outweighed both our COVID-19 recovery and common sense. If this is what modernizing our nuclear capacity means, we’re being had.

A second answer is Ego. Trump was told that no new ICBMs were needed. Even refurbishing current ones would be more cost effective. But he insisted on a shiny new fleet, 50% larger, to show off at taxpayers’ expense. Even more frightening is the presidential role as the ultimate decider for launching these missiles. Picture an enraged Trump itching to flip that switch, making us all toast glowing in the dark.

Don’t buy into Trump’s new Pac for paying his legal fights, and who knows what else. Don’t fund politicians supporting this rage and revenge. They’re aiding and abetting the breaking of democracy, and possibly, the planet. Call your senators and congressmen and explain why they’re not getting your money. Insist that they make peace, not war.

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