In an utterly scary 2.5 hours reminiscent of what other autocrats, demagogues, and dictators over history have done, Trump speaks to the annual CPAC convention. He hugs the flag, attacks the media, insults his former cabinet members, demeans opposing voices in even his own party, congratulates his generals, and of course lied lied and lied some more. He even gets the audience to chant “lock her up” in an attack on Hillary Clinton. I don’t know whether to be more ashamed of Trump as our President or the adorning complicit and yes deplorable-acting crowds who cheered him on as if we were in Nazi Germany of the 30s.
Pundits for Trump continue to claim he has met all his promises made during the election and the early months of his term. They lie as easily as he does. He did not build even part of a wall that Mexico paid for; his trade policies did not reduce trade deficits; he did not get North Korea to give up its nukes; he did not start building America’s failing infrastructure; he did not improve healthcare or get rid of ACA; he did not start negotiating prices for pharmaceuticals; he most certainly did not drain the swamp of corruption in Washington, and the list goes on and on. I suppose we should be so happy he is rather inept at running government.
The U.S. House of Representatives, now under Democratic and democratic leadership, has launched a blanket inquiry into the Trump administration which could lead to impeachment. Just a few of the topics to be investigated will include obstruction of justice, corruption, abuse of power, hush money payments, campaign finance law violations, security clearance irregularities, tax fraud, and of course collusion with Russia during and after the election. The Republican party, having fallen prey to the cult of personality, and the so-called moral voice of America, have nothing to contribute.
In an executive order Trump weakened a rule that the DoD had to annually release a report on the estimates of civilians killed in airstrikes outside of conventional war zones. We have so many operations going around the world, such as in Yemen and Somalia, perhaps it is just to hard to do anymore. How sad that the blood of these innocent deaths is on the hands of so many American who seem not to care.
The Trump administration continues to deconstruct protection of the America this week by easing regulations on big banks put into place after the great recession of 2008 when the federal government had to bail out so many financial institutions. Not to be satisfied with that alone, the Dept. of Interior removed gray wolf off protection as an endangered species.
A week after the failed summit with North Korea, satellite photos are released that seem to indicate the Koreans are rebuilding structures at a long-range rocket site they had previously dismantled.
America’s trade deficit in 2018 roared to a ten-year high over $600B. This despite Trump pledging he was going to slow if not reverse international trade imbalances. Just another lie from a con artist who misled his way into office.
Trump’s ex campaign manager and unregistered foreign agent Paul Manafort was sentenced to 47 months in prison for his crimes of bank fraud and tax cheating. He earned and hid over $50M of compensation from foreign entities associated with Russia in off-shore bank accounts around the world. It just proves that white rich men who commit crimes are let off rather easily compared to others. He still awaits sentencing for other crimes related to his dealings as a foreign agent.
Two more defectors from the administration this week as the Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson resigned and then short-lived White House Deputy Communications Director Bill Shine left. Shine, who was an ex-V.P. of Fox News apparently could not take working in the middle of chaos that has become the Trumplandia White House.
It was reported this week that the federal government began special tracking, surveillance, detainment, and interrogation of American journalists who were covering immigrants at the southern border. Should we be surprised when the President continues to call these professionals fake news and whips up those at his rallies into such a state that they turn violent on journalists covering events?
In another sad moment for how far our country has fallen, the Trump administration says it will thwart the International Criminal Court’s effort to investigate possible war crimes committed by America in the Middle East. This should not be surprising from a President that thinks he too is above the law.
Trump’s FAA, led by an acting director like so many other of his federal agencies, drags its feet in protecting American passengers from the problem-ridden new Boeing 737 Max that has now suffered two crashes. We are nearly last of all the international aviation agencies to order the fleet be grounded.
In an interview with the conservative Breitbart News Network President Trump is quoted as saying “….I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump – I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.” Can anyone have ever imagined a President of the U.S.A. saying this, threatening his political opposition and the American public at large?
Trump threatens violence from “his people” during the same week that an Australian White Nationalist kills over 50 Muslims attending noon prayer services in Christ Church, New Zealand, using an arsenal of automatic weapons. Kiwi’s are quick to respond to this carnage by calling for the banning of these weapons in their country. Trump comments that this type of violence is done by a small group of people. Yeah, right. Tell that to all the many victims of hate-filled violence around the U.S. and the world during his first two years of office.
Yet, House speaker Nancy Pelosi says that impeaching Trump is just not worth it. Maybe Republicans are right about Democrats. They are just not willing to fight to protect our constitution, democratic values, and way of life.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney has now joined dozens of former administrations with condemning Trump’s foreign policy that is driving a wedge between the U.S. and the rest of our long-time allies.
In another step of turning our backs to the world, Trump’s administration announced plans to close all 21 international offices of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. These cuts will make immigration to the U.S. harder, including those seeking to enter the country using family reunification as well as refugees. How ironic that it was reported First Lady Melania’s parent’s were admitted to the county using that very same policy.
Trump presents his budget for next year that total’s $4.7T with sharp cuts to domestic programs. Of course military spending is up, as well as billions more for his border wall and homeland security. Agencies like the EPA are to get a 32% cut, transportation 22%, and agriculture, education, labor, interior, housing, and health and human services receiving double-digit decreases in funding. It also includes steep cuts to Medicare and Medicaid payments by promising to reduce $1T of federal support the next ten years. These cuts will just accelerate the continued separation of our country into two America’s; one of the wealthy with access to private education, private transportation, private health care, etc. and another America living more and more in poverty. Trump is acting more like a terrorist hell-bent on deconstructing our country.
With his tax cuts the deficit is expected to be over $1T, the highest since spending during the great recession. If we run deficits like this now in a good economy, how bad will it become during the next recession. So much for another Trump campaign promise / lie that he would pay off the deficit in 8 years.
In a rare and resounding bipartisan vote, the Senate overwhelmingly rejected the President’s declaration of a border emergency as a ruse to fund and build a border wall. It seems even the Congress has now awaken to its responsibilities and authority, and now seeks to protect its constitutional powers from this President. The next day Trump vetoes this congressional action so it is all headed to the Supreme Court. It was the first veto of his term due largely due the previous Congress’ inability to produce any legislation for Trump to sign or veto.
After the rare event of Trump attending church on Sunday at the start of the week, he becomes unhinged with a tweetstorm of very non-Christian insults and threats that once again approach new lows in presidential behavior. It includes attacks on the late Senator John McCain, a war hero who served his country his entire life. McCain’s family fires back saying the President led a pathetic life obsessing about greater men than he will ever be. A few Republicans come out of hiding and cowering to say the President’s remarks were not wise. How finally brave of them.
Later in the week Trump calls the husband George Conway of his adviser/attack-dog Kellyanne Conway a total loser for his comments on Trump’s performance in office. Should we be surprised after he called his own former Secretary of State “dumb as a rock” and “lazy as hell.”
After his public attacks and bullying of others who disagree with him, Trump then signs an executive order protecting freedom of speech on college campuses by threatening funding for violators. He claims conservatives have been victims of elite liberal (i.e. educated) college faculty.
Meanwhile a home-grown terrorist likely edged on by the rhetoric and vitriol of Trump and Fox News, Cesar Sayoc, pleaded guilty to mail 16 bombs to democrats, former senators, media personalities, donors, and political opponents of Trump. Cesar’s van was plastered with conservative stickers and pro-Trump signs.
Despite a meeting with the North Koreans that made no progress, Trump conducts more foreign policy by twitter when he reverses his decision to slap new economic sanctions on the country. This is a week after the national intelligence agencies had to admit that the Koreans were indeed back to adding to their nuclear infrastructure. Trump continues to claim that he very much likes dictator and human rights terrorist Kim Jong Un.
Trump hosts the visit of another authoritarian who threatens democracy, President Bolsonaro of Brazil who is called the Trump of South America. Here again Trump embraces and shows admiration for military strongmen around the world. They both take turns at attacking the media as fake news. Back home Bolsonaro’s critics say that they have lost 30 years of progress in rights for indigenous people and environmental protection of the rain forests. We feel their pain as it is ours too.
Meanwhile around the world American bombs continue to drop in places like Somalia, likely because of Trump’s relaxation of rules of engagement for the U.S. military to prevent civilian casualties.
Trump fuels more discord in the Middle East by reversing a long-standing U.S. policy when he backed Israeli’s claim to the contested Golan Heights. The move was seen as a political gift to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, another belligerent strongman supporter of Trump, who faces opposition and his own criminal charges back in Israel.
Trump family members Jared Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump were accused by the House Oversight committee of using private emails to conduct official government business. This of course was what Trump railed about for months in his campaign against Hillary Clinton for her use of private email accounts.
At the end of the week Special Prosecutor Mueller delivers his long-awaited report to the Attorney General Barr on Russian influence in the 2016 election. The investigation has already resulted in dozens of indictments of Americans and Russians. Trump spends the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago luxury resort held up with his family and lawyers. He is uncharacteristically quiet on Twitter.
The week begins with Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller delivering to Trump appointed Attorney General William Barr a 400 page report on his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Barr does not release the report but only a 4-page summary in which he claims there is no grounds to indict a sitting President for conspiracy or collusion with Russia or even obstruction of justice. Barr cites Mueller as saying there was no basis for conspiracy charges, but yet there was no grounds to exonerate Trump either. Much of the nation on both political sides takes a sigh and deep breath hoping it would not be the case that a President – even one who so easily distorts, lies, and threatens like Trump – would have done such a thing. Yet, what will the full report actually say? How will we square that with all the strange behavior of Trump with respect to the Russians and Putin in the past two years, in addition to the meetings and relationships between members of his family, campaign staff, and cabinet with Russians in recent years? The strife and bitterness across America goes on.
Trump stokes the flames of division across the country by holding campaign rallies fitting of Nazi Germany more so than America where the whipped up crowd once again chants “lock her up” when Clinton’s name is mentioned. This time they put barriers between the crowd and the press pool to avoid attacks on members of the media as have occurred in previous rallies. At the rallies Trump of course blames the fake news media once again.
In a newsletter article on “Making America Hate Again” from the Southern Poverty Law Center has found that Trump’s fear-mongering rhetoric has contributed to a record growth in hate groups across the country to over 1,000. Why would anyone be surprised.
Feeling like he has had a victory, Trump next takes on his promise to repeal ACA, the health care that provides 11M Americans with coverage and has improved standard coverage, like caps and preexisting conditions, for millions more Americans with conventional insurance plans. Trump states in more Orwellian terms that the Republican Party will soon be known as the party of health care. More rhetoric and lies. He directed the Justice Department to seek an invalidation of the entire ACA law, bypassing the legislature.
This week the President threatens to close the entire border with Mexico and to stop trade with Mexico which totals some $1.7B. Ironically, every time Trump threatens to close the border it only increases the deluge of immigrants from Central America who then rush to get across one way or the other before it does close. Republicans so know how to manifest their own history and make their worse fears come true.
In a new biography the late first lady Barbara Bush is said to have loathed and been horrified by Trump’s Presidency saying Trump meant greed, selfishness, and ugly. She went so far as to distance herself from the Republican Party Trump was creating and did not recognize if from that of her husband, George H. W. Bush, or her son George W. Bush.
Among other budget cuts in the President’s proposed budget for next year are a 23% drop in funding for the peacemakers of the State Department and the good-will makers of the U.S. Agency for International Development. That is on top of cuts for this current year which were originally 29%. All this from the party that railed against Obama and Clinton for a lack of security at the American embassies and consulates, including in Libya. They now want to cut diplomatic security spending by 40%.
The callousness of the Trump administration shows no limits when funding was stripped from support of the Special Olympics for Children. After great protest, a few days later Trump tells “his people” to restore it.
Despite recent failures to protect the public, such as the FAA, the Trump administration has announced plans to reduce the number of federal employees who inspect the safety of pork products. The industry has promised to self regulate itself, just like Boeing and Wall Street of course.
The above news items have 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.