The Trump Chronicles: Week Two
Sorry it has taken so long—I am catching up, I promise! Big work week again. But here it is: Week Two of the Trump Chronicles, and this one is even more horrifying than the week before it!
💣 One week into his presidency, Trump signs an executive order banning Muslims from 7 countries from entering America, shutting out refugees, and placing a number of other roadblocks to immigration into the United States.
The countries blocked are Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. It is immediately noted that no terrorists who attacked the United States come from those countries. In the meantime, countries from which many terrorists have attacked America—Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, Russia and Pakistan—are not on the banned list. The order also ignores the fact that most terrorism in the United States is committed not just by Americans, but most of all by white, male, right-wing Americans.
The order also effectively banned Muslims in general without saying it expressly; it cut off refugees from Syria altogether, despite those people being victims of ISIS; Al Qaeda, ISIS, and other jihadi organizations all expressed delight at Trump’s ban, calling it “blessed,” noting it will enrage people in the region, hailing it as a boon for their recruitment.
The order also gives state and local leaders in the U.S. a say in federal refugee placement—a long-time right-wing desire—and promises to make immigration more difficult for virtually anyone planning to travel, study, live, or work in the United States from abroad.
💣 Trump also signs a presidential memoranda to “rebuild the U.S. Armed Forces,” signaling an intention to sharply increase military spending, which is already the highest in the world. The U.S. military is already more powerful than most other militaries combined, and we spend more than China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, The United Kingdom, India, and Germany combined. Trump’s plan is estimated to increase military spending by between $55 to $90 billion every year—up to almost a trillion dollars more than current over the next decade.
💣 Trump releases a statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day—a statement which intentionally omits reference to Jews. It is later revealed that the White House rejected a statement which mentioned Jewish victims.
Everyone immediately remembers that one of Trump’s top advisors is considered an anti-Semite.
💣 A Trump supporter who illegally voted for Trump twice appears in court; her lawyer argues that she should not stand trial.
💣 Republican Senator Orrin Hatch reports that Trump is “eager” to eliminate federal protections for a sacred tribal site in Utah. The site is threatened by oil and gas drilling, mining, looting, grave robbing, and reckless off-road vehicle use. Apparently, Trump and Senate Republicans want to threaten it again.
💣 FBI crime data show that Trump is wrong: sanctuary cities are not hotbeds of crime with “so many needless deaths.” The data shows that sanctuary cities are actually safer than other cities.
💣 The Trump administration names as an employee to the Department of Education a staffer who shared racist social media links and posts claiming that Scalia was assassinated; very soon afterwards, the name disappears from the list.
💣 Via yet another presidential memoranda, his eleventh, Trump places alt-Right extremist and white supremacist Stephen Bannon on the National Security Council, making him perhaps the most powerful operative in the White House, with access to the nation’s most vital security information—and a frighteningly powerful influence over U.S. security matters. At the same time, the director of national intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were kicked out of the council, unless their “expertise” is found necessary. Having Bannon, who is a racist, misogynist and Islamophobe on the council is potentially disastrous. As the Boston Globe put it, this essentially gives ” the former executive director of Breitbart News the same standing as the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, and the secretary of homeland security.”
💣 A federal judge in Brooklyn blocked part of Trump’s Muslim Ban, in the wake of reports that countless people were denied entry to the U.S. and were threatened with deportation despite not only being innocent, but many had served the United States loyally despite great danger to their lives and their families’ safety. Many with green cards were also illegally denied re-entry to the U.S.
💣 Massive protests materialize at JFK Airport “out of nowhere,” angrily protesting the detaining of two Iraqis. Among the people detained and threatened with deportation: an Iraqi who risked his life serving the U.S. as a translator, who sold his house and car, severing all ties with Iraq to come here; an Iraqi woman whose husband was also a translator; a Harvard graduate and Stanford researcher on a research trip for her anthropology Ph.D.; a pair of Iranian grandparents visiting the U.S. for their twin grandchildren’s’ birthday; an Iranian Ph.D. student at Yale holding a green card; and many others like them.
💣 Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau humiliates Trump by saying that refugees which Trump banned are welcome in Canada.
💣 Trump earlier signed presidential memoranda #10, this time laying the groundwork for a possible new ground war in Syria and Iraq, one day after signing a memoranda with the intention of increasing spending on the military by up to almost a trillion dollars over the next decade. Trump has been advocating for a ground war in Syria for almost a year now.
💣 Trump signs another executive order placing a 5-year ban on lobbying for federal appointees after they leave office. His order has language taken almost exactly from similar orders signed by Clinton and Obama. The order also loosened other rules for lobbying.
💣 Trump’s approval rating dips to 42% and his disapproval rate leaps up to 51%.
💣 Trump halts a program bringing at-risk Jewish, Christian, and Baha’i refugees from Iran, just a day before tweeting that it is an outrage that Christians are being executed in large number in the Middle East, and that “We cannot allow this horror to continue!”
💣 To deal with the disastrous clash with Mexico caused mostly by Trump’s inability to handle foreign relations, Trump assigned his son-in-law Jared Kushner to smooth things over. Kushner has zero training or experience in national security or international relations.
💣 Trump ordered a raid on an al Qaeda stronghold in Yemen in which a Navy SEAL member was killed and three more were wounded. Also killed in the raid was an 8-year-old girl, an American citizen, one of ten civilians killed which included women and children. Among the material costs was a $75 million Osprey helicopter that had to be destroyed. The raid was sold to Trump over dinner; Trump readily agreed. How much influence was wielded by Stephen Bannon and Jared Kushner—who were both at the dinner despite having zero experience in such matters—remains unclear.
Although pushed by some in the military, the raid had been put on hold by the Obama administration, which had deemed the strike too risky and not likely enough to provide intel worth that risk.
The Trump administration repeatedly lied throughout the aftermath of the mission—first claiming, for example, that there had been no civilian deaths in the raid, and later pretending that the mission had been a great success and valuable intel had been recovered.
The raid has since been seen by many as a crass disregard by Trump for risks to the lives of the servicemen, all so Trump could hope to gain a military success that would make him look presidential, especially relative to Obama—that Trump incautiously and impulsively sent a solider to his death in a poorly-planned and questionable mission purely for ego and political gain.
💣 Outrage and protest against Trump’s “Muslim Ban” increase, with even greater protests in airports, in Silicon Valley, and even outrage amongst some Republican lawmakers—in particular, John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Trump responded in a two-part tweet in which he castigated the two senators for failing to “focus their energies on ISIS, illegal immigration and border security instead of always looking to start World War III.”
In Silicon Valley, the protests were attended by many, including Google co-founder Sergey Brin, which reminded everyone that he was a refugee himself. It was also pointed out that Steve Jobs’ biological father was a Syrian immigrant as well. Many other famous figures in the region pointed to their own family histories with immigrants and refugees—indeed, a common American story.
Trump administration officials shied away from calling it a “Muslim Ban,” but Rudy Giuliani openly admitted that Trump called it exactly that, and asked for ways to do it “legally.” Three days later, a frustrated Trump would tweet, “Everybody is arguing whether or not it is a BAN. Call it what you want, it is about keeping bad people (with bad intentions) out of country!”
Trump defended his “Extreme Vetting” on social media, claiming his actions were “not about religion.”
💣 Trump ramps up his war with the New York Times, tweeting: Somebody with aptitude and conviction should buy the FAKE NEWS and failing @nytimes and either run it correctly or let it fold with dignity!
Trump also tweeted messages that the world “is a mess” because of havoc wrought by immigrants and refugees, while at the same time bringing specific focus on Christians being killed in the Middle East—saying that “We cannot allow this horror to continue!” while giving zero indication of exactly (or even vaguely) how that could be accomplished.
💣 A leaked recording of a closed-door Republican party retreat in Philadelphia surfaced, exposing their intent to dismantle the ACA while having concerns that they’ll be held responsible if their actions cause massive disruption and harm. They also fretted about how to “avoid the political consequences of defunding Planned Parenthood.”
However, the true reveal was in how Republicans were acutely aware of how they could not do anything that they wanted without either keeping Obamacare in place, or else stripping 20 million Americans of health care and/or causing massive deficit increases—as one Republican put it, “pulling the rug out from under them.” It was eminently clear, although never directly stated, that Republicans indeed have no real plan on how to accomplish what they are claiming to know how to do: to repeal the ACA while having something even moderately equal ready to go.
In short, they’ve got precisely dick, and they’re beginning to worry about it.
💣 After Acting Attorney General Sally Yates quite rightly and fully legally declined to defend Trump’s patently illegal travel ban, Trump fired her. Yates questioned the order’s lawfulness, despite a White House Legal Counsel’s “finding” that the order was legal—a common tactic used by the Bush 43 administration whenever they wanted to justify illegal actions.
He fired Yates, apparently, soon after whining about how he’s got Obama people still in positions in his administration, tweeting, “The Democrats are delaying my cabinet picks for purely political reasons. They have nothing going but to obstruct. Now have an Obama A.G.” Trump seems ignorant of the fact that Obama’s nominees were blocked far longer and far more effectively, with some positions not filled until 100 days in to his presidency.
💣 Trump mocked Senator Chuck Schumer’s tearful reaction to innocent people caught up in Trump’s travel ban. “I noticed Charles E. Schumer yesterday with fake tears. I’m gonna ask him who is his acting coach because I know him very well, I don’t see him as a crier. If he is, he’s a different man. There’s about a five percent chance that it was real, but I think they were fake tears.” Trump said this as his staff “chuckled.”
💣 Trump once again signs an executive order, eviscerating regulations by (1) requiring two regulations to be struck every time a new one is created, and (2) mandating that new regulations not cost anything. Ironically, by doing so, Trump is making the regulation system far more complex—for the regulating agencies. Among the impacts are the likelihood that organizations like OSHA and the Department of Labor will essentially cease any new protections for workers, and likely will erase a number of existing protections.
💣 Repercussions of Trump’s travel ban continued as more consequences became clear. The Washington Post found that the ban would put Americans more at risk than otherwise as Los Angeles feared their Olympic bid would be jeopardized, and industry continued to push back (except for Goldman Sachs), with continued outspoken reactions from the tech sector—although many worried about a vengeful Trump backlash if they speak out too much.
💣 Trump claims that his rush to ban Muslims was justified because, as he tweeted, “If the ban were announced with a one week notice, the “bad” would rush into our country during that week. A lot of bad ‘dudes’ out there!”
💣 Gregg Phillips, the Republican whose tweet was used by Trump as his chief evidence that 3 to 5 million people voted illegally was discovered to have been registered to vote in three different states.
When asked about that, Phillips actually stated that his being registered to vote in three states was evidence of how “broken” the system was.
💣 Meanwhile, Republicans continue to work hard on their pet projects to tear down Obamacare and replace it with some really screwed-up crap and destroy Dodd-Frank legislation which put at least some controls on the kind of activities which led to the Great Recession.
So, to sum up: Republicans trying to strip 20+ million Americans of health care coverage while also trying to empower corrupt Wall Street profiteers to do the same stuff that crashed the economy a decade ago. Because, apparently, America First.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker cheered on these efforts: “It’s put up or shut up time,” he told Republicans about cramming through every right-wing legislative action they could get their hands on.
💣 Trump played games with the Supreme Court nomination, asking for and getting broad TV news coverage, teasing the announcement, and even calling in two nominees to “build suspense.” It is noted that Trump is playing this like an episode of The Apprentice or some other reality TV show.
Trump, in prime time on TV, announces Gorsuch as his nominee, and then beams to the audience, asking, “Was that a surprise? Was it?”
Sure, considering that Merrick Garland was legally supposed to be the next justice and Republicans stole the seat for Trump. Gorsuch is exactly what you’d expect for Republicans and Pence to send up for Trump to nominate: an extremist judge in the mold of Scalia with a milquetoast track record and aged just young enough to steer the court to the right and away from actually observing the constitution itself for decades to come.
I take that back. It was about the least surprising thing imaginable.
💣 Oh, by the way, Iran conducted a ballistic missile test. The Trump administration appeared to be completely unaware and fully unprepared to react to that. I’m sure it’s nothing important.
In other news, Trump screened the movie Finding Dory at the White House.
💣 Trump continued to whine in his tweets about Democrats not fast-tracking his nominees: “When will the Democrats give us our Attorney General and rest of Cabinet! They should be ashamed of themselves! No wonder D.C. doesn’t work!”
Right! You would think that Trump had nominated nothing but billionaires, racists, cronies, and corrupt bankers to his cabinet or something. It’s not as if any of Trump’s nominees have massive conflicts of interest, or were chosen to destroy the very agencies they were nominated for.
“No wonder D.C. doesn’t work.” Indeed.
💣 Speaking of which, Betsy DeVos plagiarized answers to questions from Congress. Nobody seems to care. Why should they? It’s not like plagiarism is in any way related to education or anything.
In the meantime, it appears that Jerry Falwell Jr. is on line to be tapped by Trump for a role in drafting “higher education regulations.”
Because, first, nothing says “Academic Integrity” like Liberty University, and second—wait, I thought that Trump was against regulations. But now he wants to ramp them up on colleges and universities, with the nation’s chief Bible-thumper at the head of the committee?
Nothing to see here, folks.
💣 It turns out that Trump lied about only 109 people being affected by his Travel Ban, as more than a thousand were caught up in the mess.
Trump’s ever-increasing mountain of lies prompts foreign leaders and diplomats to voice their concerns about Trump’s mendacity. They worried that it could be a threat to their own political stability; the president of the European Council wrote that Trump’s lies “put into question the last 70 years of American foreign policy.”
💣 Democrats try skipping votes for Trump’s nominees in an attempt to delay and obstruct. It doesn’t really end up working at all. They’re not very good at that sort of thing.
💣 Oh, and remember how McCain, Graham, and other GOP members of Congress stood up and spoke out against Trump’s Muslim Ban?
Turns out, they were just kidding.
💣 Trump wastes no time encouraging Republicans to strip Democrats of what little power they have left in Congress. When the first hint of Democratic opposition was brought up regarding Trump’s nomination of Gorsuch to the court, Trump said: “If we end up with that gridlock I would say, ‘If you can, Mitch, go nuclear.’ Because that would be an absolute shame if a man of this quality was put up to that neglect. I would say it’s up to Mitch, but I would say, ‘Go for it.'”
Trump then called the Democrats “very dishonest” for even suggesting any opposition to Gorsuch—this after Republicans refused to give Merrick Garland even the most basic of hearings, based solely on their hypocritically dishonest abuse of their power.
The “nuclear” reference, by the way, is to the move first threatened by Republicans a decade ago to strip the power of the filibuster from the Senate. When Democrats used the filibuster to block Bush 43’s most extremist judicial nominations, Republicans exploded in fury, threatening to end the filibuster once and for all, calling it the “nuclear option” (a name they later pretended they never came up with). After Democrats spinelessly backed down, Republicans lost the Senate—and then proceeded to use the filibuster in historically record numbers, blocking virtually everything Obama and Democrats tried to do for nearly eight years.
So, yes, it would be “dishonest” of Democrats to filibuster.
💣 Donald Trump holds a press conference to honor Black History Month, surrounded by the few black people he’s ever known. At the photo op, Trump seemed confused as to whether Frederick Douglass was alive at present. Sean Spicer later clears up the confusion. Ha ha! Just kidding.
Trump also used the event as a way of attacking the “fake news” of media outlets he’s outraged by, and took the opportunity to portray black communities as crime-ridden. Because, apparently, he loves “the blacks.”
Trump also contributed something else to the event: fake news. He claimed that “we ended up getting substantially more [black voted] than other candidates who had run in the past years.” No he didn’t.
💣 Students and others in Berkeley protest Milo Yiannopoulos being given a public platform from which to spew trollish obscenities. Trump responds by denouncing an attack on free speech and threatening to strip Berkeley of $500 million in federal funds.
Perhaps I do not understand the First Amendment of the United States Constitution perfectly, but it occurs to me that “free speech” is not anyone’s right to speak at a private forum, but instead refers to any governmental consequences of public speech—including protest.
💣 Rex Tillerson is sworn in as Secretary of State under a cloud of suspicion that he is part of a deal with the Russian government to end sanctions against Russia and open up a $500 billion oil deal put on hold due to sanctions against Russia for invading Ukraine. Tillerson is a former CEO of Exxon. Which I’m sure has nothing to do with anything.
💣 Back when the press was so innocent: reporting on a charity event at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, they noted that the event “comes with an additional twist: Trump happens to be spending the weekend at his private club.” Yes. “Happens.” I’m sure we won’t be hearing much about this Mar-a-Lago place much in the future.
Despite the fact that the very next words were, “which his press secretary dubbed “the Winter White House” Tuesday during his news briefing.”
💣 Trump has a phone call with the Australian Prime Minister. Trump, naturally, brags about his electoral college win, because that’s what you do in calls like this. The PM reminded him of America’s promise to take in 1,250 refugees currently at a detention center in Australia.
Trump explodes. He says this is the “worst deal ever” and accuses the Australian PM of trying to send terrorists to America. He says accepting the refugees would get him “killed” politically. He says the conversation is the “worst call by far” and abruptly ends it less than halfway in.
💣 Trump did much better with the Aussie PM than he did with President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico. In that call, Trump threatened to invade Mexico.
No, really. He said, “You have a bunch of bad hombres down there. You aren’t doing enough to stop them. I think your military is scared. Our military isn’t, so I just might send them down to take care of it.”
💣 Trump holds a prayer breakfast, and focuses, naturally, on how badly Arnold Schwarzenegger is doing in Trump’s old “Reality” TV show job.
He also spent time complaining of how tough it is to have phone calls with foreign leaders.
And no, that last thing is not made up.
💣 Something else Trump said at the prayer breakfast was that he would do away with the “Johnson Amendment.” By that, he meant that he would no longer restrict churches and other tax-exempt religious organizations from endorsing candidates and engaging in rank politics. Churches could go fully partisan, could blast one candidate and threaten parishioners with eternal hell for voting for them, and not be in the least bit of trouble with the IRS.
💣 Trump finally responds to Iranian ballistic missile test. He tweets, “Iran has been formally PUT ON NOTICE for firing a ballistic missile.Should have been thankful for the terrible deal the U.S. made with them!” Trump’s masterful foreign policy is truly breathtaking.
Trump, however, seemed to feel that was not enough, so five minutes later, he tweeted again, this time attacking the Obama administration for giving Iran a sweet deal.
💣 Nordstrom’s decides to stop carrying Ivanka Trump’s product line, citing poor sales. I am sure that Trump will treat this as the minor deal it is, and Kellyanne Conway will do nothing untoward in regards to this.