Sunday, January 22, 2017

Sunday Week in Review, Special Inauguration Edition

Editor's note: WTDT tries to be brief, even on Sundays when we recap more than one thing. If we don't want to be exhausting to read, then we can't be exhaustive of all the legitimately troubling things Donald Trump might do in a week. On special occasions, though, it's worth taking just a little extra space to look at the range of issues that will confront all Americans under Donald Trump's presidency. 

Thank you for your patience, and remember to share this page (Facebook, Twitter) or the things you learn here with someone else who might not have heard them yet. 

Tens of millions of fundamentally decent Americans with good intentions voted for Donald Trump. Even now, many are realizing that their trust in him was misplaced. It's not always comfortable to do it, but it's an act of kindness and patriotism to provide your fellow citizens with facts.

What else did Donald Trump do this week?

He violated his promise that the Trump business empire would conduct no new or pending "deals" in foreign countries during his presidency. The Trump International Golf Course Scotland will proceed with "pending" plans to build a second 18-hole course. Critics of Trump's pledge noted that "deals" was a meaninglessly vague term. The Trump Organization called the move an "implementing [of] future phasing" rather than a "pending deal."

He also failed to deliver on his promise to hand over control of the Trump Organization to his sons and executives before becoming president. Last week's press conference featured stacks of manila folders that Trump claimed were the actual legal documents necessary to transfer "complete and total control" of his businesses. The papers on the table were likely fake, but the actual papers necessary to remove Trump as an officer had not been filed in the relevant states by the time Trump was inaugurated on January 20th.

In remarks at the CIA memorial to fallen agents that dealt mostly with his estimation of his own popularity, he revealed something of his Iraq strategy, saying that "maybe we’ll have another chance" for the United States to seize Iraq's oil. It is physically impossible to seize oil without militarily occupying the country from which it is being seized, but Trump's remarks are likely to be well received by ISIS and similar organizations. ISIS and Al-Qaeda recruitment propaganda has relied heavily on the idea that the United States' only interest in the Middle East is in seizing its oil--something that every American president until now has vehemently denied.

He refused to immediately disclose donors to his Inauguration Committee, although at least the last three presidents have done so without delay. Trump will be legally required to release the names of donors within 90 days. Trump's campaign stressed that he would "drain the swamp" and end the practice of allowing wealthy individuals and corporations to anonymously buy access to the White House.

He was sued for defamation by a woman who came forward during the campaign to accuse him of sexually abusing her. This is one of approximately 75 pending lawsuits against Trump personally (not counting lawsuits against his businesses where he may be subpoenaed), none of which he is exempt from by virtue of being president.

He appointed Reed Cordish as the Assistant to the President for Intragovernmental and Technology Initiatives. Cordish's background in "technology" appears to be nonexistent, but he is the business partner of Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner, and a $250,000 donor to the Trump campaign.

As is traditional in the internet era, The White House website changed abruptly at the moment of Trump's inauguration, with many references to Obama-era programs and policies being removed. Some deletions, however, were about matters that no president is entitled to ignore. Since the inauguration and as of this post, had no information on LGBT issues or immigration, and the civil rights page had been redirected to a single post titled "Standing Up For Our Law Enforcement Community." Information on the Affordable Care Act, which the Trump administration is legally required to support through the 2017 calendar year (even if the act is repealed), had also been purged.

Trump inherited a new Twitter account this week--@potus--but continued to tweet after his inauguration from the more popular one he'd used during the campaign and transition. A day after taking office, he tweeted that he was "honered to serve," then deleted the misspelled tweet and replaced it with a corrected version. Neither tweets nor typos are exempt from the Presidential Records Act, which requires that every communication to or from a president be preserved.

He added, through his senior advisor Kellyanne Conway, a new euphemism for the practice of saying things that are untrue on their face: "alternative facts." Trump has spoken approvingly of the practice of "truthful hyperbole" before and recommended it in his book Art of the Deal.

Finally, he lashed out at "the enemies" who disapproved of his Twitter habits and his intention to continue using it. A recent poll shows that 69% of Americans disapprove of how Trump tweets.

Why would a reasonable person have a problem with any of this?

  • Presidents shouldn't try to get out of promises to behave ethically.
  • It matters if a president says he will do something and then fails to do it.
  • Voters may have believed Trump when he said he wanted more transparency in government.
  • A president's time is too valuable to be spent in depositions and other legal matters over personal business.
  • It is incredibly bad if a president confirms terrorist recruitment propaganda, even if by mistake.
  • It is wrong to appoint unqualified people to White House staff positions because they have a business relationship with your relatives.
  • Presidents don't get to pick and choose which of their duties they want to perform.
  • Presidents don't get to pick and choose which laws are important enough to obey.
  • Calling strategic lies by a catchy name is what authoritarians, real and fictional, do.
  • It's a very, very bad sign when a president openly refers to Americans as his "enemies."