Sunday, October 1, 2017

Sunday Week in Review

What else did Donald Trump do this week?

He chased away his DEA head. By most definitions, the resignation of Tom Price as HHS secretary on Friday was the 19th departure (voluntary or otherwise) from a senior or cabinet-level position in the 8-month-old Trump administration. But he also lost the acting head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Chuck Rosenberg, who resigned Tuesday.

Rosenberg's departure was particularly noteworthy because he made no secret of the fact that he considered Trump a threat to lawful and honorable policing. 

He forgot that #fakenews usually requires electricity these days. Trump's 25-tweet rant yesterday included an admonition "to the people of Puerto Rico: do not believe the #fakenews!"

95% of the island's electrical power grid is down, and only 10.7% of its cell towers are working. Given the nature of the modern news media, this means that many Puerto Ricans would find it difficult or impossible to read either his tweet or "fake news."

Most of the "fake news" has focused on the fact that the hurricane was indeed devastating all over the island, and that not everyone is fully satisfied with the federal response.

He called hurricane victims "politically motivated ingrates," which doesn't really require much elaboration. 

He got some help from old friends in his campaign against NFL protests. Much of Trump's previous long weekend at Bedminster (and some of this one, too) was devoted to the fight he picked over gestures of protest by athletes during the National Anthem. Polls say that the public saw Trump's stirring of the controversy as politically motivated and opportunistic, but not all of his supporters abandoned him: a network of suspected Russian-operated Twitter accounts sprang into action to help him inflame the issue.

Russian propaganda and influence campaigns, including the ones that helped Trump get elected, tend to be aimed at undermining confidence in democracy itself, or hurting Americans' opinions of their country, rather than taking a specific stance.

He self-fulfilled a prophecy. At his September 22 rally on behalf of Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL), Trump said this:
I will be honest, I might have made a mistake. The story--here is the story. If Luther doesn't win, they will not say we could do 25 points in a short time, they will say, "Donald Trump, the President of the United States, was unable to hold his candidate. It is a terrible, terrible moment for Trump. This is a total embarrassment." I mean, these are bad people. ...Luther will definitely win.
Trump subsequently griped that he had been manipulated into backing Strange--an aide described him as "embarrassed and pissed"--and claimed that he would have preferred to back Moore. Since then, Trump's complaints have shifted back to his original prediction--that the "fake news" is simply reporting who won (Moore, by 10 points) rather than covering what he believes was a huge Trump-specific boost to Strange's campaign.

As is usually the case with primary contests, Alabama voters said immediately before the election that Trump's endorsement had little impact on their vote.

Why are these bad things?

  • Federal law enforcement officers should be able to have faith that the president will allow them to do their jobs honorably.
  • Hurricane relief is a higher priority for hurricane victims than political spin.
  • A president who finds a way to make himself the biggest victim of a natural disaster is either mentally unfit for or morally unworthy of the presidency.
  • It doesn't really matter if a president is knowingly or accidentally helping a hostile foreign power's propaganda campaign against the United States.