Bearing Witness to Trump Month 22

Week of October 28 – November 3, 2018

A week after a right-wing Trump supporter and mail bomber targets a dozen Democrats, the country suffers through yet another hate crime when a gunman opens fire in a synagogue with an AR-15 rifle and kills 11. Trump of course takes no responsibility even though in the days leading up to the attack he continued to ridicule Jewish donors to the Democratic party, like George Soros, and lead crowds in his rallies to chant lock him up.

Trump attacks the constitution this week by claiming that he can change the birthright citizenship clause of the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. No longer would children born in the U.S. be granted automatic citizenship. Should anyone who has been paying attention be surprised?

The first of up to 15,000 troops Trump ordered have arrived on the border to protect the country from a migrant caravan of mostly poor, broken, defenseless families seeking a better future escaping failures of their own political systems. He says that if the migrants throw rocks across the border at soldiers they should shoot back as if the rocks were rifles. It is widely understood that this is just red meat to stoke up his base. And it is working as vigilante groups are organizing a call to arms to take to the border. How much lower can we hang our faces and the flag?

It was reported this week by the Treasury Department that the federal government is projected to borrow nearly $1.3T this year, more than double the previous year due largely to massive tax cuts from last year. Only twice before has borrowing been this large, but that was when the country was in the midst of a deep recession. This time the economy continues to do well and we are running huge deficit. Should anyone be surprised? This is what Trump did to his own businesses by loading them up on debt, taking the profits, and declaring bankruptcy or passing the ruins off to someone else. It is apparent that he thinks of the U.S. as his own private business from which to plunder and profit.

The week ends with a father of seven being killed by an insider attack against U.S. forces in Afghanistan. In the midterm elections never a word is heard about America’s longest war. Our elected officials on either side seem not have the courage to even talk about it while other Americans are willing to die for it. The hypocrisy of waving the flag and supporting the troops without the effort to call this attempt of nation-building a colossal failure that should have ended years ago.

Week of November 4 – 10, 2018

The country this week is rocked by vitriol elections, another mass shooting, wildfire disasters, and cabinet firings. The new normal seems to be one disaster after another, mostly man-made.

The week begins with Trump holding more rallies where he stokes anger at his political opponents, and even members of his own party who don’t support him. He rouses the country to fear immigrants, the press, and of course Democrats who he says are radicals and evil bad people who will lead the country into crime-ridden socialism. Trump even has Fox News Sean Hannity appear with him at election rallies. It is obvious to most that Fox News is serving as a ministry of propaganda for Trump.

The country by and large, buys the snake oil that Trump is selling in the Senate elections, where the Republicans pick up several new seats, including those held by Democrat moderates like Clair McCaskill of Missouri. Things do not go nearly so well for Trump’s party in the U.S. House where Democrats pick up nearly 30 seats to take back part of one branch of government and finally provide checks and balances defined by the constitution. Record Americans turned, out and some 40% of them said their votes were cast to express their opposition to the Trump administration.

The massive shakeup predicted after the midterm elections starts to unfurl. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is ousted. Sessions was the first U.S .Senator to support Trump in his 2016 election. But when he recused himself from the Russian investigation Trump turned on him like Trump always does calling him weak and disgraceful. There can be no doubt that Trump like other despots and autocrats demands loyalty to himself above loyalty to the country and constitution. Why does the scorpion sting the turtle whose back he is on while crossing the river? Because he can’t help himself. Defense secretary Mattis among others is expected to go next.

Trump’s appointment of interim AG Matthew Whitaker provokes an approaching constitutional crisis with obstruction of justice by the justice department and Trump administration. Whitaker is a Trump loyalist who has few qualifications to run the Justice Department, even say many Republicans. Whitaker has criticized the Russia-Trump investigation and attacked Mueller in OpEd pieces and in social media posts. He has claimed that the judicial branch is inferior to the other two branches of government. Like so many other Trump appointees, he has little respect and regard for the mission of the organization he is to lead. It is expected he will fire Rosenstein then special prosecutor Mueller. Trump puts distance between himself and Whitaker by declaring he does not know him, after only last month stating he did know him.

The day after the election Trump in a bizarre White House press conference he takes credit for the Senatorial wins, blames others for the losses in the House, picks and calls names those Republicans who did not support him, and vows a “warlike” response if the House starts to launch an investigation of his administration. He attacks and personally insults members of the White House press corps just doing their job with asking tough questions, and later in the day has CNN’s Jim Acosta credentials revoked. The WH then releases a doctored video alleging to show that Acosta pushing a WH intern seeking to take the microphone from Acosta. That’s they way to bring a divided country together alright.

Trump continues to whittle away at our finest humanitarian traditions by tightening the requirements for asylum seekers. Legal challenges are immediately filed.

Months after Trump claimed he had made peace with North Korea and there were no longer a threat to the U.S. but it is obvious that he has been played by the Koreans as they cancel another meeting.

Another community experiences a horrific mass shooting crime where 12 died. This time in Thousand Oaks, California, only a week after the last one in a Jewish synagogue in Pennsylvania which killed 11. The gunman was a former marine using an illegal extra-capacity magazine on his handgun.

Federal prosecutors are reported to have prepared an indictment detailing that the President directed several hundred thousand dollars of hush money made to women to keep them quiet about alleged affairs. If so, some of these payments would have violated campaign finance laws if they were made to influence the outcome of an election, as even Trump’s own former lawyer Cohen says happened.

The week ends with Trump traveling to France to celebrate the end of WWII. However, because he is snubbed by other leaders he no-shows at a ceremony at a battleground cemetery where many American servicemen are buried. First Trump blames bad weather kept his military grade helicopter grounded. Then he said Paris traffic was to blame. Trump says he will fly back home to the U.S. before other world leaders meet in a 3-day peace conference. A good thing for him, as other world leaders speak of the fragility of peace and that love of country and patriotism is the opposite of saber-rattling nationalism. As a reminder, Trump, who got out of Vietnam with a bone spur, has yet to visit American troops serving in active combat conditions.

Massive destruction and death is experienced in California from wildfires like the state has never seen before due to high winds and drought. Tens of thousands are evacuated as dozens of bodies are discovered in burnt-out cars and homes. Trump offers a token word of sympathy, but unable to stop himself from victim shaming, goes on to blame Californians for not doing a better job managing their forests. He knows so little about the federal government, otherwise he would know the U.S. Forest Service is responsible.

Week of November 11 – 17, 2018

In a photo from last week’s meetings in Paris that tells all, as Russian President Putin enters a room Trump is seen smiling at Putin as if they were old friends, while Merkel and Macron look on with suspicion.
Trump continues to tweet about the fake news media this week which is nothing new. But in a rant Trump rages about Special Prosecutor Mueller saying Trump is the victim of a witch hunt like none other in American history, and that Mueller’s team has gone absolutely nuts and his work is a total mess. Rumors are that Trump is panicking now having to answer in writing questions put to the White House. Congress is now rushing a bill that would protect Mueller from being fired which is supported by even Republican lawmakers. Some states which are worried Congress may not act fast enough have sued the federal government over Trump’s pick of Matthew Whitaker as the new Attorney General, claiming a normal succession plan was not followed.

The Russians must be enjoying the post-election chaos in the U.S. where numerous races have not been certified because of delayed results, broken poll equipment, disputed counts, and of course lawsuits. Once again Florida is mired in races with only a few thousand votes separating winners from losers. Republicans as they did in 2000 seek to have the recount stopped. Trump claims without any evidence as usual that there has been widespread voter fraud and that the election is being stolen. Can there be any doubt what will happen in 2020 if he loses? At least the Democrats have learned their lesson, grown a backbone, and are not conceding contested seats.

Trump threatens to shut down the U.S. government if budget negotiations do not provide the billions needed to build a wall along the southern border. This of course was the wall Trump promised the Mexicans would pay for.

Now that the elections are over, we have thousands of armed forces on the border waiting largely for mothers with children from Central America seeking asylum. But Trump has not said a thing about the caravan since before the election, which many read as just confirming his attempt to pander to fears was politicking.

Trump finally picks an Ambassador for Saudi Arabia which was just one of hundreds of appointee posts, including some in treacherous parts of the world like Korea, that have gone unfilled. Two days later it is reported that the CIA has concluded that the Saudi Crown Prince himself directed the barbaric assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey. Trump’s White House immediately denies that there has been in final determination made, apparently for one aspiring dictator to protect another dictator.

More speculation this week of other cabinet members to be leaving the Trump administration, including Homeland Security Kristen Nielsen and Chief of Staff John Kelly. Politicos comment that we have gone from a B team to a C team to finally a D team in the people who surround and try to control Trump. You do have to question to judgement and motivation of anyone who would want to be associated with this president.

Thirteen new hidden missile bases are reported to be in North Korea in underground facilities, disputing Trump’s claim that NK is no longer a nuclear threat. In a trip to Asia for the Pacific Summit, Vice President Pence and China’s Xi Jinping exchange threats and jabs at each other on topics ranging from international trade to freedom of the seas.

Week of November 18 – 24, 2018

Never to let a holiday go to waste without fuming about something and attacking fellow Americans, Trump placed a call on Thanksgiving Day to troops in which he aired grievances about the courts, asylum seekers, immigration, border security, and trade deals. He did take time to congratulate himself that the country was doing much better on his watch, claiming it is stronger than ever and that no one has ever done more for the military than he has. He made the call to the troops from his Mar-a-Lago luxury resort.

Even in pardoning the White House turkeys, a fun non-partisan Thanksgiving tradition of past President’s for decades, the man cannot help himself. He steams about the U.S. 9th Appeals Court as well as election results being contested by Democrats who demanded a recount.

The tension between China and the U.S. at the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference was so bad it caused the meeting to end without a joint declaration for the first time since 1989. There is little surprise that there has been no progress at all with North Korea’s denuclearization, especially without China’s influence. Talks are stalled. We shiver knowing how Trump will act out as it becomes more obvious he was had and played by Kim Jong Un.

Trump’s ego is so fragile that he stoops so low to criticize the architect of the Admiral who oversaw that Navy Seal team that killed Osama bin Laden. Trump claimed that Admiral McRaven was a Hillary Clinton fan and Obama backer, and should have caught Bin Laden a lot sooner.

Senators have gone to court to block Trump’s appointment of an acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker without having been reviewed by Congress in its constitutionally prescribed advise and consent role. A report comes out that Whitaker was paid nearly $1M by an organization that regularly attacked the Democrats.

It came out this week that Trump’s daughter Ivanka had used her person email account for government business. Ivanka said she had no idea this was a problem.Trump blasted Hillary Clinton for using her personal email for some government business and made “where are the emails” a big election issue.  Trump of course finds no problem with this double standard for his royal family.

A court restored the right of CNN reporter Jim Acosta to keep his White House credentials after being kicked out by Trump. The WH Press Secretary scolds the press corps for their uncivil behavior. Obviously she is not paying attention to the behavior of her boss when he attacks, insults, demeans, bullies, and slanders the press.

The Trump administration apparently has discussed using census information to have it shared with law enforcement agencies. Confidentiality of individual census responses has been enshrined into the census since 1879.

Despite the mounting evidence that Saudi Arabia’s royal family directed the brutal assassination of a member of the press Trump continues to side with the Saudis instead of his own intelligence agencies,. He calls them a great ally that we need for selling billions of dollars of weapons to. Yes, for Trump, just another demonstration of his amoral love of money that is more important than American values.

Trump threatens to close the Southern Border all together for what threat we cannot possible understand. Meanwhile thousands of troops are deployed over Thanksgiving do a job that we fear will lead to unnecessary violence.

A New York state judge ruled that a lawsuit may proceed that alleges Trump and his family violated the laws regarding charities in the management of the family foundation. In the lawsuit it was alleged that the foundation was used as a checkbook to cover many of Trump’s expenses and gifts to advance his business and political career.

A federal court stalls enforcement of Trump’s restrictions on asylum seekers. Trump lashes out at the court calling them a disgrace and very unfair. He calls the judges “Obama judges” and “Clinton’s judges.” In an ever so rare display, Chief Justice Roberts weighs in and says that these judges are not loyal or begotten to the Presidents who appointed them, but to the Constitution. Never to let someone speak last, Trump fights back at Justice Roberts calling courts like the 9th circuit dangerous and unwise.  Yes, just another demonstration that aspiring dictators work to denounce the press, then the courts, and then the military commanders who don’t show total adequate loyalty.

Despite what Trump claims, his tax breaks have encouraged businesses which are flush with cash to buy back close to $200B of their own stock in the last quarter alone. The total for the year is expected to be near $1T of buybacks.

In a visit to California to see firsthand the destruction from the deadliest wildfires, Trump continues to call the community that was burnt to the ground Pleasure instead of Paradise. He doubles down on blaming poor forest management and then claims that countries like Finland do it much better than California. Way to show some empathy Mr. President.

The week ends with the White House issuing a major report on climate change prepared by numerous federal agencies. As is the custom, anything with bad news is released on Friday afternoons of holiday weekends. The climate assessment warns of irreversible damage to the environment, public health and safety, infrastructure, ocean side populations,  and the economy from what they say is certain man-made climate change and human produced catastrophes due to the burning of fossil fuels that creates greenhouse gasses.

Week of November 25 – December 1, 2018

Trump defends his tough-on-migration policies after the U.S. Border Patrol fired tear gas across the Mexican border into groups of migrants including families and children. Many Americans are shamed once again by Trump’s actions. This time the sight of a woman with children running away from a tear gas canister. How have we become this type of a nation?

The President heads to Argentina for a G-20 meeting with world leaders this week. There are so many pressing problems that require leadership. Climate change, Yemen war and famine, Russia’s attack on Georgia’s Navy, trade wars, Saudi Arabian atrocities, rise of right wing autocrats, international election meddling, and the list goes on. Yet Trump appears to have no conversations of substance on the big issues. He avoids Putin where he could have called him out on attacking Georgia, as well as King MBS on killing of a U.S. resident journalist. He does add his official signature to a new trade deal with Canada and Mexico that experts say is little different from the NAFTA agreement it replaced.

Trump continues with his weekly tirade which included this week the Mueller investigation, the press, the Federal Reserve Bank, the environment, General Motors, China, and his former attorney Michael Cohen. Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about whether Trump was discussing business deals with the Russians while running for office. Trump responds by calling Cohen a very bad liar. Unlike the very good liar Trump is.

Trump speaks of pardoning his ex-campaign manager Paul Manafor, who was accused of lying to the special prosecutor this week.

Over 2 million employees of the Federal Government were warned this week to not talk politics and threatened with legal action if they did. They were specifically warned to stop talking about impeachment or resisting the Trump administration.

In the Afghan war and occupation that may never end in our lifetime, three more U.S. service men were killed by the Taliban. And a U.S. air strike killed at least a dozen civilians. The President, who has yet to visit the war zone, did not seem to be bothered in the least.

Back home in the U.S. the number of children without insurance has started to rise again due largely to the Republican party dismantling the ACA such as by reducing penalties for not having insurance. For the first two years of the Trump term American life expectancies have started to go down after decades of steady increases. Drug overdoses are up, suicides are up, gun deaths are up, and lifestyles and diets are overall less healthy.

General Motors announced the closing of numerous plants and layoffs of 14,000 employees and its stock goes up 5%, all despite Trump’s claim that he will resurrect American manufacturing. Trump attacks GM and threatens to cut off subsidies which causes its stock to drop by nearly 3%. Imagine if a Democrat President had attacked a company to hurt its stock performance. The irony that under the Trump administration’s reduction of fuel standards GM no longer needs to produce more efficient vehicles like small or even midsize cars which had been propelling its growth.

Trump on the economy goes on to attack the Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Powell for increasing interest rates. It is rare that an sitting American President tries to intimidate the central bank which has up to now always been fiercely independent.

In addressing the dismal climate report released on Black Friday, Trump goes on to say that he has a very high level of intelligence and does not see how climate change can be man-made. He asks how if water is clean and the air is clear that climate change can be happening.

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.

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