U.S. President Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, faces a great deal of opposition to her confirmation. Most of that opposition comes from Democratic politicians and Democratic organizations. But if both parties stuck to their stated principles and goals, the Senate would vote 100-0 against her nomination.

Donald Trump. Photo by Michael Vadon.

“In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide,” U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump tweeted in late November, “I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” Kind of a sore winner. And now that he’s no longer just president-elect but actually president, he’s doubling down and says he “will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD ... .”

That’s dumb. And dangerous.

On the Friday before Christmas – the kind of time politicians pick to do things they hope you won’t notice – U.S. president Barack Obama signed the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Along with the usual terrible, horrible, no good, very bad NDAA stuff (all the little mandates involved in continuing to operate the most irresponsibly bloated and expensive military machine on the planet), this NDAA included an ugly little Christmas gift for incoming President Donald Trump: The Countering Foreign Disinformation & Propaganda Act.

Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin

In early 2003, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell took the stage at the United Nations “to share with you what the United States knows about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.” Powell justified the impending U.S. invasion of Iraq on the claim that Saddam Hussein’s regime continued to produce and stockpile chemical and biological weapons in violation of UN resolutions. He dazzled his audience with audio recordings and surveillance photographs that he claimed constituted evidence of Iraq’s perfidy.

Two years later, Powell called the presentation a “blot” on his record, admitting that he had deceived the UN. The “weapons of mass destruction” didn’t exist. All the Saddam-era chemical weapons recovered in Iraq since 2003 are of pre-1991 manufacture with no evidence linking them to the regime since the 1991 war.

How long can we expect to wait for the National Cybersecurity & Communications Integration Center to admit that its report “GRIZZLY STEPPE – Russian Malicious Cyber Activity” – pre- hyped as providing “evidence” of Russian government interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election – is a reprise of Powell’s UN speech?

Every four years, the United States elects a new president. And every four years, the outcome makes some Americans so unhappy that talk of secession – never completely absent from our ongoing political discussion – gets a big bump in the “trending topics” lists. 2016 seems to be shaping up as secession’s best year since 1860.

Federal Communications Commission Chair Tom Wheeler

Federal Communications Commission Chair Tom Wheeler wants telephone companies to make robocall-blocking technology available to their customers. And he wants them to do so “at no charge.”

When Harriet Tubman died in in March of 1913, the U.S. $20 bill bore George Washington’s portrait and the inscription “This certifies that there have been deposited in the treasury of the United States of America $20 in gold coin payable to the bearer on demand.”

Later that year, Congress passed and President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act. The following year, the Federal Reserve issued a new $20 bill, adorned with the portrait of Grover Cleveland. In 1928, the first $20 bill bearing the visage of Andrew Jackson appeared. Even though the Federal Reserve had taken over the creation of “money” (loosely defined) from the U.S. Treasury, the note still promised that it could be redeemed for gold at the U.S. Treasury, or gold or “lawful money” at any Federal Reserve Bank.

Nearly 90 years later, as the Treasury announces that Tubman’s likeness will grace the next $20 bill, Federal Reserve Notes are just paper, no longer redeemable in gold and sustained only by the faith of buyers and sellers in a government nearly $20 trillion of its own debased dollars in actual debt – and even deeper in the hole when unfunded promises of future spending are taken into account.

An October/November survey by the Harvard Institute of Politics and covering the midsection (adults between 18 and 29) of the "millennial" demographic found that after the November terror attacks in France (but before the December 2 attack in San Bernardino), that demographic's support for deployment of U.S. ground troops against the Islamic State in Iraq & Syria jumped from 47 percent to 60 percent.

But when asked a followup question - "If the United States needed additional troops to combat the Islamic State, how likely would you be to serve?" - 85 percent responded "probably won't join" or "won't join."

Last week we saw what's become a regular headline: "Republicans Threaten Government Shutdown." This year's excuse was a feud over whether to continue writing an annual $500-million corporate-welfare check to Planned Parenthood.

With bated breath, the mainstream media informed us that the usual suspects on Capitol Hill were "working feverishly" to avoid the "shutdown." If they hadn't worked out a deal, the media would have squeezed a few more days or weeks of purple prose out of this fake calamity.

Yes, fake.

There was not going to be any "government shutdown." There's never been one, nor is one likely in the future. Or at least not until the U.S. government as we know it "shuts down" for good. (Yes, that will happen someday; nothing lasts forever.)

Nor are these fake "shutdowns" anything close to calamities. At worst they're mild inconveniences, and then only because Americans have acquiesced in government doing far too many things for far too long.

Memory has a way of playing tricks on the mind, but my recollection is that each of the seven presidential elections since I reached adulthood (I turned 18 the week after Ronald Reagan was re-elected in 1984) has been advertised - by the parties, by the candidates, by the media - as "the most important election of our lifetimes."

Here comes the eighth. Same shtick, even if the Jerry Springer atmospherics have been turned up a little. The world will end if Candidate X is elected. Americans will starve in the streets if Candidate Y isn't elected. You know what I'm talking about.

Of course, each presidential election is incredibly important to the parties, the candidates, and the media. Elections are their bread and butter. But are they really that consequential to the rest of us? On close examination, the only plausible answer is "no."

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