Americans had a bit of respite from Trump over the holidays that he spent in Florida where the danger and carnage to our political norms and culture was mostly from his tweeting.
Trump begins the New Year for America by taking credit for the safest skies for airline accidents, claiming it was the safest year in the air ever. Not true. His minions take to defend him. Yes, that is right, this is from the President whose administration is dismantling regulations in one industry after another. What a con artist that exploits the ignorance of many Americans.
To demonstrate the irony of what comes out of his mouth, a few days later Trump moves to expand offshore drilling, a week after they rescinded Obama-era rules put in place after Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Trump starts the New Year out by improving foreign relations with threatening Pakistan, Palestine, Iran, and of course North Korea. By tweet he promised to cut off aid to Pakistan and Palestine to make them submit to his will. For Iran, he encourages Iranian protesters on. Yes, that is what we need indeed, another failed state in the Middle East where terrorists can have their field to play and plan in. Diplomacy at its finest. Even the Israelis know that cutting off humanitarian aid to Palestine will just create another crisis with more not less political stability necessary for peace talks to succeed.
Trump and Korean leader Kim Jong-un get into a middle-school rant about who has the biggest nuclear button on their desk. Trump promises the world that his is the biggest and meanest. God, please save us from both of these men.
The big news of the week with too much controversy to even try to summarize was the release of the tell-all book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.” The author could not have presented Americans with any more of a dysfunctional White House and unfit President. Trump sues to stop the publication of the book, an unheard of maneuver by a President in a democracy. He lashes out at one-time friend and supporter Steve Bannon saying he has lost his mind. How does Trump imagine anyone can profess to be loyal to someone like himself? At least Steve aid that the actions of members of the President’s family to meet with Russians to get dirt on political opponents was treasonous. Trump is presented as poorly informed, without curiosity or an ability to read, listen, focus, or learn. How can this end well for America I worry?
During the week the DoD says that we could make more progress in Afghanistan if the Afghan forces were more aggressive. Geeze, why didn’t anyone think of this in previous administrations (they did) in our newest colony of occupation where we have had a war going for 17 years, longer than any others. The lack of political courage and moral leadership to say enough is enough that is missing is maddening. The arrogance and hubris of America to think we can fix Afghanistan’s political woes when we can’t fix our own as best demonstrated that Trump has asked for $18B to build his Mexico wall…which I fear will be used to lock Americans in this increasing madhouse of dysfunctionality.
The week ends with news that Trump’s DOJ rescinded Obama’s policies that kept the feds from cracking down on the trade of marijuana in states where it had been legalized. If there was ever a time Americans need to chill out with recreational pot, it’s now during the reign and ruin of Trump. The only good news of the week was that the Trump administration has disbanded the voter political fraud group. He of course blames others for this failed effort. But I worry that he now sees vote fraud as a channel for him and his surrogates to exploit in their own election strategy.
The week begins with Trump declaring by tweet himself a “very stable genius” and “like really smart” in response to the tell-all stories from the White House staffers in the new book “Fire and Fury.”
Is it any surprise that Trump’s White House has set all-time turnover records from staff coming and goings in his first year of office. The list is huge and many Americans have simply lost track. To help move things along, Chief of Staff John Kelly has prohibited the use of personal phones and devices for staff in the White House. Nothing says we trust you like telling staffers to check their devices at the door.
But the week’s real news is dominated by Trump calling African nations “shithole countries” and asking why we want to allow immigrants from these countries. He does this in front of members of Congress during a meeting about immigration, many who show outrage as much of the world responds in shock and horror. He asks why we don’t allow more immigrants from countries like Norway. Yet, I doubt anyone had the courage to tell him that few Norwegians would want to come to the U.S. to give up such a high standard of living from their healthcare, education, parental work leave, transportation, and sustainable energy programs.
Then of course Trump does what Trump does best. He lies and said he did not say shithole countries. Americans hang their heads even lower in shame for the words and sentiment of their President. How much lower can we go?
The Trump administration ends protection of nearly 200,000 Salvadoran immigrants who now fear being deported after years of living, working, and contributing to the U.S. economy.
In only one of several walk backs for the administration Trump tweets about not supporting the extension of the FISA security measures, then says he does after staff explain PISA to him.
A NYT editorial summarizes Trump’s threat to democracy by quoting political scientists who have studied how democracies lose their way. They cite four warning signs of a dangerous political leader: a weak commitment to democratic norms, denying the legitimacy of opponents and belittling them personally, tolerating violence and sows division and hatred, and attacks on civic liberties and dismantling institutions like the free media or even some justice functions. Trump displays all four characteristics. I would also add that they surround themselves with appeasers and sycophants, demand total loyalty, and then lies, bullies, demeans, attacks, and blames anyone he disagrees with and never ever admits a mistake.
But in more good news for the working poor, the Trump administration claims that the problem with the sick who need Medicaid is that they just need to work more. Which of course risks making them ineligible for Medicaid provided health care but still too poor to afford other insurance, especially in those states that have not expanded Medicaid under the ACA. What a kind Christian thing to do. Kick them off of Medicaid, then disband the ACA, and be sure that raising the minimum wage or unions gets no support.
And to help the poor with their financial health, the Consumer Protection Bureau under new leadership will revisit Obama rules which protected the poor and needy from predatory payday lending programs. Yes, banks and loan sharks charging consumers more than 300% interest are the ones that need our help and protection, not the indebted exploited poor.
Never to leave any war zone behind, Secretary of State Tillerson says that U.S. troops will remain in Syria for the foreseeable future. He says we cannot allow history to repeat itself by leaving Syria too soon. What history is he referring to; 16 years in Afghanistan perhaps?
A global opinion poll shows that America’s reputation has dropped by over 20 points since Trump took office. Meanwhile, Trump continues to claim that the world now respects America more under his leadership. Another lie spewing out of his mouth.
It is reported that a plan is being circulated at the Pentagon which would expand the circumstances in which the U.S. could use a nuclear response to a non-nuclear threat or attack. And of course we need a whole new generation of nukes because you can just never have enough weapons of mass destruction. Yes, evangelical Christians who support Trump, you can celebrate some more that this must certainly be God’s will.
Finally, a Republican Senator, Jeff Flake of Arizona, has had enough and rails against the propaganda and lying of Trump and his constant attack on the free press. He compares Trump to Stalin. Of course Trump’s White House immediately attacks Flake and calls him a mouthpiece of the Cuban communists. What?
But just to demonstrate that Trump believes in democracy and the separation of power, while Steve Bannon was being interviewed by Congress, Bannon’s attorney in real-time phoned the questions to the White House Counsel who then advised Bannon to claim executive privilege that is normally reserved for the President. Trump used his own executive privilege to obstruct justice. Let’s show Joseph and Fidel how it should have been done!
Chief of Staff Kelly feels Trump’s wrath after Kelly said that the President was uninformed about some current issues and his views were evolving on things like the wall. Trump, never to be shown up by a subordinate, took to twitter to claim nothing has changed about the wall he promised his supporters. Oh, that is with the exception that it won’t really be a wall and Mexico won’t really pay for it.
During the week Trump parades a Navy Admiral out in uniform to give the glorious leader high marks for his health. He is said to be in excellent health, of course! The best ever. Other physicians not in the employ of the White House disagree after seeing Trump’s near obese weight, LDL levels, diet, and lack of exercise.
In the continuation of Presidential lying by twitter, the President claims that his support by black Americans has doubled and that unemployment of blacks in the lowest ever. This occurs the day after Martin Luther King Day, where of course Trump spent in Florida playing golf.
The week and Trump’s first year in office ends in crisis with a government shutdown. The democrats showed some backbone and grew tired of inaction on Children’s CHIP healthy program and rejected Trump’s massive immigration reform package. How can anyone negotiate with Trump; someone who constantly lies and changes his position and is surrounded like a cult-figure by people who appease and apologize for him.
Reports abound that a stripper porn star named Stormy was paid $130K by Trump’s lawyers just a few weeks before the 2016 election to keep quiet about her escapades with the soon-to-be President. Why is no one surprised anymore about anything? We suffer outrage fatigue. Meanwhile, the evangelicals continue to support Trump, saying no one is perfect. At least First Lady Melania shows some courage in that she suddenly declines to accompany her husband to Davos.
In Davos, Trump is loving being around all the big dogs and wealthy of the world who shunned him just a few years ago. It’s a victory lap for his ever so fragile ego. He proclaims that America is open for business. And of course espouses no new ideals or values from America other than the pursuit of wealth.
Another news report surfaces that Trump did indeed attempt to fire special prosecutor Mueller last year, but White House attorney(s) threatened to resign and talked Trump down. Despite this, Trump continues to claim there was no obstruction of justice, and of course no collusion with the Russians. He continues to blame the press for more fake news.
In more bad news for the planet, the EPA changed its classification of power plants for air emissions. In another set of lies from the administration, they claim this will improve America’s air quality. Do these eco-terrorists have no shame?
The short-lived government shutdown ends after a long weekend. Trump, the great deal maker, was nowhere to be found during the continuing resolution negotiations. The rumor was that his aides had persuaded him to stay out of the discussions because whenever he opens up his mouth he either lies, maligns, contradicts himself, or incites more outrage.
In response to Trump’s tweet that the Democrats were holding the military hostage, Iraq War Veteran and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth calls Trump out for being a five-deferment draft dodger. She then criticizes Trump for baiting Korea into a new war.
Vice President Pence’s visit to the Middle East is met with anger and rebukes from Arab and Palestinian leaders who do meet with him, and others who refused to meet at all. What did he expect after rushing a move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem? He even incites a protest in the Israeli parliament. Pence finishes his trip with a visit to a U.S. base where he launches a partisan attack by blaming the Democrats for playing politics with military pay, a rare show of partisanship in front of troops serving abroad. Pundits state the obvious that the U.S. has lost much of its credibility as a peace maker in the Middle East.
The above news has been taken from a number of international, national, regional, and local news media sources, both print and digital. Additional editorial opinions and comments about these news items are those of this author.