It’s Groundhog Day 2017. Here is a run-down of why I think the situation in the US is seriously troubling:
Trump the person
I won’t dwell long on this aspect. He is a billionaire businessman who knows only to advance his own interests. He shows all the traits of suffering (read: profiting) from narcissistic personality disorder and sociopathy. He lies every time he opens his mouth. He lies about blatant objective facts and he makes those around him carry those lies. He is a textbook racist: he judges people broadly according to the negative stereotypes of their country of origin, their race and their social group. He is a misogynist: his comments and actions towards women are inexcusable and indefensible. He is a bad, evil, hateful person, judge him on whichever moral code you ascribe to. He is an aspiring autocrat. He is a bully, and America has just granted him control of the largest apparatus for bullying in the world, the US economic and military might.
Executive Orders in first 10 days
EO to repeal Affordable Care Act. This is one of the last first world countries with no universal healthcare. More importantly, they have no plan to replace Obamacare once repealed.
EO Global gag rule banning NGOs who receive American funding from discussing, even discussing, abortion.
EOs to revive the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipeline deals with little to no regard for Native American Indian concerns and the public response, not to mention serious environmental concerns.
EOs to further reduce regulation for businesses. You can be sure these will include rolling back regulations that protect people and the environment but are ‘bad’ for business. Another EO requires the repeal of 2 regulations for every new regulation. This is like saying we must arrest x number of people per day (coming soon).
EO threatening to defund sanctuary cities. The so-called sanctuary cities are predominantly the richer, liberal-leaning cities. The money to run the federal government comes from these cities. So Trump is basically threatening to withhold from these cities the money these cities pay the federal government.
EO to build a wall on the border with Mexico. Mexico will not pay for it, though Trump will continue to try to bully them into submission. The American people will pay for it, as was always going to be the case. (Speculation only: The government enters contracts worth $100+ million to build and maintain the border wall with companies with untraceable affiliations to Trump, with huge penalties for termination. This is important as the wall will not be completed in one presidential term.) This EO also requires mandatory detention of illegals who cross into America instead of the current catch and release policy. (Speculation only: The detention centres that will need to be built will undoubtedly be for-profit; let’s call them the new Trump hotels. It will of course not be traceable to Trump’s interests. Hell, they probably will be traceable but will be rubber stamped anyway.)
EO banning nationals of 7 predominantly Muslim countries from entering America as well as suspending the refugee program. Obviously the official line is to protect America’s borders. People were quick to notice however that only 2 terrorists were known to have come from the banned countries, most were from countries unaffected by the ban. People have also noticed that the ban only affects countries where Trump does not have business interests and skips all of those where he does. And this isn’t even touching on the fact that these bans will be completely ineffective at preventing terrorists from entering the country, just like the wall is not going to halt illegal immigration. And it’ll be a great recruitment campaign for extremists.
EO restructuring the National Security Council to exclude the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence from the Principal’s Committee unless necessary and making Steve Bannon (who we’ll get to) a regular attendee.
Trump’s National Security Adviser and Secretary of State both have close ties to Russia. Trump’s UN Ambassador questions US’s funding of the UN. Trump’s pick for EU Ambassador wants to break apart the EU. The nominee to head the EPA has been it’s strongest opponent. The nominee to lead the Department for Energy wanted to abolish it (along with the Departments of Education and Commerce). The nominee for Secretary of Education not only has no idea about the education system but refused to say in her Senate Committee hearing that she would protect people from scam schools. The nominee for the Attorney General was once denied a federal judgeship because of his racism (more on him later too).
Almost the entire senior management of the State Department was fired en masse with no replacement. A lot of people (normal citizens and reporters) view this as incompetence when in fact it may have been (open speculation:) a concerted effort to remove any opposition voices to the immigration ban, which was signed without anyone being notified and with no clarification of how it was to be enforced.
Rule of Law
While we’re on the topic, there were, thankfully, immediate legal challenges to the immigration ban. The 100+ affected peoples were stranded in CBP custody with children separated from their parents, and denied access to lawyers. Several state courts ruled on the ban but CBP agents defied the orders. Trump has repeatedly acted as if he were above the law. He used charity money to buy pictures of himself and bribe bureaucrats into dropping investigations into his illegal affairs. He settled the case against Trump University to ‘concentrate on his presidency’. He has not resolved his massive conflicts of interest. He has cases going before judges that he will appoint. His nominee for the Supreme Court will adjudicate on the constitutionality of his actions. He thinks he has been elected to a 4-year dictatorship and what’s scarier, a large chunk of the American people think so too. And just like any dictator, you can be sure he will be spending the next 4 years consolidating his power. The ban on refugees also breaches the Geneva Convention on Refugees but international treaties are impossible to enforce. Oh and he yelled at the Australian Prime Minister but Turnbull deserved it for not standing up to Trump in the first place, instead supporting the Muslim ban.
The acting Attorney General was fired for defying the same executive order, which she considered unconstitutional. Ironically, she was asked in her Senate Committee hearing whether she would uphold a president’s order or the Constitution should conflicts arise, to which she replied that she would defend the Constitution, which is exactly what she did. Trump fired her on the spot. The Senator who posed the question to her was Jeff Sessions, Trump’s nominee for Attorney General. You can be sure he will not be challenging the constitutionality of the ban.
Media and Lies
Trump lies in the face of incontrovertible evidence. He lied and continues to lie about the attendance at his inauguration. He claims the rain miraculously stopped when he came out to speak when coverage clearly shows him delivering his speech in the rain. He has the Press Secretary Sean Spicer and I don’t even know what Conway’s official role is officially deliver these lies. She calls them ‘alternative facts’. Trump lives in his own reality and as one comedian said, he has us all hostage. Bannon called the media ‘the opposition party’. Conway threatened to ‘rethink our relationship with the media’. They have called for reporters who write negatively about Trump to be fired. At least one freelancer who trolled Trump was fired after pressure from Secret Service.
Trump continues to express his support for the use of torture, which also breaks international law.
Trump is a climate change denier. Either he really is that stupid or he just uses it for his own financial and political gain, much like Holocaust deniers (also coming soon). Pages addressing LGBTQ rights and climate change disappeared immediately from the White House website upon his inauguration. He wants to reignite the coal industry. He has ordered the revival of oil pipeline projects. He claims climate change is a hoax created by the Chinese. His Secretary of State is the former CEO of ExxonMobil, who sat on evidence of climate change and gave money to support climate change deniers. (Speculation only: He may have received 19% of the Russian state oil company as a gift for winning the election and implementing a Russia-friendly foreign policy.)
Bannon & Kushner
Trump appointed his son-in-law senior adviser, sanctioned by the Department of Justice. Nepotism laws aside, this is a guy that spreads white supremacist bullshit. Bannon was the head of Breitbarts, an extreme right-wing ‘news’ site that no one other than its readers would even consider real reporting.
Trump’s mother was an illegal immigrant taken in by America. His paternal ancestors were also immigrants, moving to America from Germany. Two of his 3 wives are (were) immigrants. There is uncertainty whether his wife worked illegally in America when she first arrived.
It’s Groundhog Day 2017. We’re only two weeks in.