Sunday, December 17, 2017

Sunday Week in Review

What else did Donald Trump do this week?

Voter suppression. It was revealed this week that all four Trumps who were registered to vote in the New York City mayoral election last month failed to do so legally.

Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner simply declined to vote--which may have been the wisest course of action, given the difficulty the rest of his family had in voting legally. His wife, Ivanka, attempted to vote, but mailed her absentee ballot on Election Day, which is too late. Melania Trump failed to sign the envelope, as is required, and had her vote rejected as well. And Donald Trump submitted his signed vote in a timely fashion, but with an error that, at least in theory, should have caused it to be rejected: he misstated his birthdate.

Trump claims that the only reason he lost the popular vote was that as many as five million people voted illegally (and exclusively) for Hillary Clinton. As a face-saving gesture, one of his first acts as president was to convene a commission to investigate "election integrity." Its vice-chair, Kansas politician Kris Kobach, rejected absentee ballots in Kansas from disabled persons physically unable to sign documents. That same commission includes being on the voter rolls in multiple jurisdictions under its definition of "voter fraud"--a situation that applies to almost any American who has moved in the last few years, including his daughter Tiffany, his Treasury Secretary, and Steve Bannon.

All-white advisors. Omarosa Manigault Newman, still best known for her villainous turn on the 2004 season of The Apprentice (and subsequently on Celebrity Apprentice), either quit or was fired from her White House job. Most of the media coverage focused on the drama around her exit: Manigault Newman was reportedly unpopular with other White House staff, and nobody (including her) was sure exactly what her job was.

But whether or not she was popular or useful, as the Director of Communications for the White House Public Liaison Office, she was the only African-American person who could even conceivably be called a senior advisor to Trump.

As a private citizen, Trump has been sued for refusing to rent his properties to African-Americans (twice), and again when he broke a contractual promise to the city of Gary, Indiana to hire citizens of that majority-black city. Trump was fined in 1992 for ordering black employees off the casino floor when he visited (a practice that dates back at least as far as the 1980s), and recently assumed that black reporter April Ryan was a personal friend of the members of the Congressional Black Caucus and could set up a meeting with them.

Media meddling. Last month, Trump made headlines when he apparently leaned on his Justice Department to force the sale of CNN--the politically moderate news network he "hate-watches"--as a condition of approving a merger between AT&T and Time Warner, which owns it.

This week, he called Rupert Murdoch, the owner of 21st Century Fox, to be reassured that the sale of Fox properties to Disney did not include Fox News--the right-wing news network that makes up the bulk of his reported 4-8 hours of daily TV-watching. (Much to Trump's relief, Fox News will not be part of the sale.)

Trump's Justice Department has not raised any objections to the $52.4 billion media consolidation deal.

Why are these bad things?

  • In a functioning democracy, governments try to make it easier to vote, not harder.
  • The most likely reason that a president has no black advisors is that he does not value the opinions of black people.
  • It's bad if a president uses the powers of his office to reward friends and punish enemies.