Monday, February 20, 2017

Trump Continues to Defy the Odds … By Being Worse than We Could Have Imagined

It’s hard to believe, but the Presidency of Donald Trump seems to get worse with each passing day. Since my last post, an incredible amount has happened, but much of it following the same pattern – chaos in his administration, anti-labor actions, conflicts of interest, growing evidence of potential ties to the Russian election hack and lies that just keep piling on top of other lies. What is becoming clearer as one week passes into the next is that Trump is engaged in an all-out assault on the media, the main organism that can hold his flailing administration accountable for it anti-democratic, anti-American and anti-worker agenda.

In this post, I will simply highlight some of the most egregious examples of his behavior in the past 10 days. Top of the list, of course, is the ties to Russia and contacts between his campaign team and the Kremlin during the election (NYT) alongside the fastest resignation of of a Defense Secretary in history (NYT). For those who continue to doubt that the Russians helped elect Trump, they might want to look to Germany, where they are trying to interfere in the upcoming election, or Montenegro, where they are implicated in an assassination attempt. Beyond the Russia ties is the most chaotic transition in history, amplified by his Labor Secretary having to withdraw after allegations of his spousal abuse were confirmed from an old Oprah tape. That follows claims of spousal abuse for his key strategist Bannon and others in the administration. And, of course, one should note the GOP pushing through the nomination of Scott Pruitt, even as he faces legal action for failing to release emails between his office in Oklahoma and the Oil & Gas companies he served so well as Attorney General of the state (WP).  

The rally in Florida yesterday exemplified all that it is wrong with Trump, from his ceaseless attack on the media to his penchant for altering reality to serve his interests. Some in the media are already fearful that they could be hunted down like a third-world country’s media for covering the administration honestly as the witch hunt for leakers grows, the first case of self-censorship emerged and the media worries that this could be the start of a trend. And just in case we thought he didn’t mean it, Reince Priebus emerged from his near invisibility to confirm that he did. Even Fox News’ Chris Wallace felt compelled to critique the President for his dangerous attacks on the media. And this comes as his new FCC Chair seems poised to undermine another channel for dissent, by ending Net Neutrality.

There was also continued assailing of immigrants as fears swell across the country with raids appearing to be on the rise, even as he admitted defeat in his original immigration order just last week. This is in concert, with his fear mongering of increased crime in the "inner cities," ironic given the fact the numbers appear to be a blip in a downturn in crime that has been going on for over two decades and the new FBI report that provides further details of his and his father’s attempt to kick blacks out of his real estate holdings in the 70s.   

As Trump was rallying his troops near his White House South, Pence was attempting to allay the fears of a Europe that is increasingly worried about the rhetoric coming from the administration. And some are suggesting that the reason he is on the road so much is because he is already suffering from cabin fever, which one might see as a good sign if it didn’t mean Bannon could be formulating even more of the foreign and domestic policy.      

Finally, in his efforts to rein in spending, Trump is targeting a host of conservative bête noirs including the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Legal Services Corporation, AmeriCorps and the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities. These are all governmental organizations that serve the people of the country, providing public television and radio, legal services, jobs for kids and funding for the arts and humanities. The assault appears to be yet another attempt by this administration to undermine the public sphere and any organizations that might challenge his power. But the most astounding element of these cuts is how little money they will save (NYT) and some of the other programs on the chopping block including the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, which dispenses grants to reduce drug use and drug trafficking, and the Export-Import Bank, which has guaranteed loans to foreign customers of American companies since the 1930s. Do any of these 2.5 billion in cuts really make America great again? I’ll leave that up to his voters to decide, though it is unlikely they will even know, or care, about them …

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