It has been quite a first week for our new Commander in Chief, alienating millions, while beginning the work of serving his billionaire sponsors. As I reported last weekend, he still seems obsessed with his ratings and can’t seem to get over the fact that more people protested Saturday than attended his inauguration Friday. Or even the fact that he lost the popular vote, now pushing those around him to waste time and government funding to launch an investigation that is sure to prove fruitless (WP). Let’s look at the other lowlights from one of the worst first weeks in Presidential history …
· Trump issued a gag order to the EPA, while eliminating any reference to global warming, then did the same to the FDA and Parks Service. After major political blowback, they not only rescinded that order but pretended they never issued it to begin with (WP, Observer).
· Issued a blanket hiring freeze across the entire government, which seems odd if he was going to “clean up” Washington. This time it was Veteran’s Affairs who complained the loudest, partially as a result of his stated conviction to fix the problem, and again the administration reversed itself – at least regarding Veteran’s Affairs (Daily Caller).
· Repeated his oft-cited claim that we should have taken the oil from Iraq and that maybe we can do it in the future. ISIS is using Trump’s words in its latest recruitment videos (NY Magazine).
· Signed an executive order to make the military bigger, even as he has no authority to do so (Breaking Defense). Same thing with the wall, which he will need Congressional funding to actualize (PolitiFact). Same, more or less, with Obamacare, though the administration ended all PSAs and other reminders to millions of Americans to sign up for healthcare by Tuesday (even those already paid for).
· The Office on Violence Against Women runs 25 grant programs to reduce sexual assault, domestic violence, and dating violence. Donald Trump wants to get rid of these programs, potentially overturn Roe vs. Wade, defund Planned Parenthood and essentially make it harder for women to get reproductive care, abortions or even contraception.
· Obviously, the most troubling announcement this week regards immigration and his, arguably, unconstitutional order to stop all immigration/visa visits from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Parts of that executive order have already been blocked by a Brooklyn judge (NYT). Even worse, it turns out only countries Trump has no business interests in were included on the list (WP).
· Finally, is his ceaseless attack on the media and the fascist implications of top strategist Bannon calling mainstream media their enemy and telling them to keep their mouths shut for a while (WP, TNY).
· One postscript – in an announcement commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day, the administration didn’t mention Jews or anti-Semitism, apparently on purpose (TPM).
When we put it altogether, we see a new administration that is demonstrating many of the traits of a burgeoning fascist state. They have their scapegoats, ultra-nationalist discourse, manipulation of the truth to serve their agenda, populist undertones at the same time they tie business and government further together, a reactionary agenda that is anti-women, anti-black, anti-Muslim, anti-gay and anti-immigrant and an attack on the institutions that could challenge them including education, media and, even, scientific research itself. Scary times indeed, though the continuing protests and general popularity of the president with midterm elections less than two years away could start to give some members of the GOP Congress pause …