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Saturday, February 18, 2017

TRUMP DIARIES: 28 DAYS 

 
THE TRUMP DIARIES:  WEEK FOUR
28 Days of Trump

By Jack Random


On the 27th day of the Trump presidency Breitbart News—gateway to an alternative reality – was seated in the front row of the White House press corps and concern over gross incompetence was supplanted by fear that the man elected to represent the American people in fact represents neither the people nor America. 

Donald Trump began his presidency by handing down decree after decree as if he believed he was the king of the world.  Resistance started on the streets of every major city in America and spread throughout much of the free world.  Now the resistance is finding its way into town hall meetings and congressional offices.  The fourth estate is finding a voice and the wall is beginning to crack. 

This is the fourth installment of the Trump Diaries. 

DAY 22:  CRACKS IN THE WALL
Friday February 10, 2017

National Security Advisor Michael Flynn is caught in the lie that he never talked sanctions with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak on the very day former president Barrack Obama imposed sanctions for interference in the American election.  Flynn publicly denied the charge at the time and handed the lie to press secretary Sean Spicer as well as vice president Mike Pence.  The Washington Post, however, spoke to nine former and current officials with direct knowledge of the recorded conversation. [1] 

In a related story, FBI Director James Comey reportedly reviewed the conversation and found no evidence of wrongdoing. [2] The plot thickens and the possibility of a criminal conspiracy to undermine our democracy comes into focus. 

This is the lie that will eventually take down the Trump presidency.  Does anyone believe Flynn was acting without guidance?  How sweet would it be to take down the vice president and the director of the FBI as well? 

DAY 23:  FIRST WAVE OF MASS DEPORTATION
Saturday February 11, 2017

Under the cover of darkness the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) conducted raids nationwide in compliance with Trump’s January 25th executive order, seizing hundreds from their homes and workplaces.  In their efforts to make America safe again, the deportations included a mother whose only crime was using false documents to obtain employment eight years ago. [3]

ICE denies the raids are being conducted on the president’s order.  Whether Trump gave the order or not is beside the point.  They are being conducted under his guidance and under his guidelines you can be deported on suspicion of jaywalking. 

A leaked Department of Homeland Security report estimates the cost of the Trump Wall at $21.6 billion over three and a half years.  The cost trumps previous estimates of 12-15 billion. [4]  Maybe Japan will pay for it. 

Modeled on the Tea Party, the resistance movement organizes to confront representatives in congress at the local level.  Republicans now fear town hall meetings and open door policies.  They are reluctant to make public appearances.  The pressure will build as they confront a choice:  Stick with the president or yield to their constituents. 

It turns out repealing Obamacare is not so popular without a replacement plan.  Surprise us all, Mr. Trump:  Give us universal Medicare.  Reverse the polarity and watch your ratings rise!  If you continue on the path your walking, nothing good can happen to your presidency or your brand. 

Protesters gather in New York and other major cities to support Planned Parenthood and a woman’s right to choose. 

The resistance is rising. 

DAY 24:  FLYNN UNDER FIRE
Sunday February 12, 2017

With the president hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Florida, North Korea fires a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan.  Mr. Trump pledges to stand with Japan one hundred percent.   

Thousands take to the streets across Mexico to protest Trump’s policies on immigration and the wall.  Hundreds have been rounded up and summarily deported in what still appears to be the first wave of a mass deportation.  Trump praises the actions of ICE while the ACLU and an army of Mexican immigration lawyers prepare for a fight. [5]

The White House chooses not to defend Michael Flynn concerning his misleading statements over pre-inauguration communications with Russia.  Flynn may be the first of the Trump team to step down.  He won’t be the last. 

DAY 25:  NSA BLOWBACK
Monday February 13, 2017

A former NSA analyst claims that the intelligence community is withholding sensitive information from the president’s eyes amid fears that “the Kremlin has ears” inside the White House circle.  In a touch of irony the story was leaked through the New York Observer’s website, until recently owned by the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. [6]

Trump relates his full support for Flynn through surrogates.  It has all the markings of a Mafia kiss of death. 

Trump meets with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.  No one has presented a stronger contrast to Trump’s immigrations policies than Trudeau – particularly when it comes to welcoming Syrian refugees.  When Toronto Star reporter Tonda MacCharles inquires if Trump now considers the northern border dangerous, he skirts the issue.  It may be the last time he takes questions from a legitimate reporter. 

Come on, Donald!  Go all in!  What this country needs is a northern border wall, a southern border wall and an impenetrable force field in the Atlantic, Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico.  Let Canada pay for it! 

The senate confirms foreclosure king Steven Mnuchin as Secretary of the Treasury.  Mnuchin capitalized on the financial crisis of 2009 by orchestrating an expedited foreclosure campaign, predating documents and implementing a robo-signing program to push people out of their homes. [7]

Is this what the president meant by “draining the swamp”?  Mnuchin is the definitive swamp rat. 

Late in the evening the White House announces Flynn’s resignation.  His interim replacement is Lt. General Joseph Keith Kellogg.  Trump loves the generals. 

DAY 26:  FLYNN BLOWBACK
Tuesday February 14, 2017

Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland becomes the first member of congress to ask the critical question:  What did president Trump know and when did he know it? 

This is the beginning of the end for the beleaguered chief executive.  The evidence will lead directly to his desk.  The White House reaction is telling:  They do not deny the reports; they decry the leaks.  This is the Nixon defense. 

It is probably not the first time a president-elect has colluded with an antagonistic foreign nation.  A persistent theory holds that Reagan defeated Carter partly by arranging a deal with Iran not to release American hostages until after the election.  History will attest the hostages were released on inauguration day.  Reagan later dealt arms to Iran to win the release of hostages held in Lebanon and to finance the Contras in Nicaragua in defiance of congress. [8] As so often happens, failure to address high crimes makes repetition of high crimes possible. 

Trump is not Reagan.  His support in congress is tenuous despite the GOP majorities.  His support with the public is in decline.  Maybe this time we’ll get it right and the president will pay the price. 

Trump loses another round in federal court over the Muslim travel ban.  District Judge Leonie Brinkema of Virginia finds that the ban violates first amendment protection against religious discrimination.  No kidding. 

DAY 27:  PUTTING PALESTINE ON NOTICE
Wednesday February 15, 2017

In a joint news conference, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Trump serve notice that neither Israel nor America considers an independent Palestinian state essential to a peace settlement. 

The rightwing Israeli leader proclaims two conditions to peace with the Palestinians:  Unconditional recognition of the Israeli state’s right to exist and Israeli control “over all areas west of the Jordan River.”  That designation encompasses all of the West Bank as well as the Gaza Strip. 

It is doubtful that our president understands any of the issues regarding the Israeli-Palestine conflict.  If he did he would know that Netanyahu is advocating perpetual occupation of all Palestinian lands.  That is a prescription for perpetual war. 

The president avoided questions concerning Flynn and the Russians except to say that the media has treated his good friend very unfairly. 

With fresh reports that Trump’s staff had “repeated contacts” with Russian agents during the campaign, the pressure for an independent investigation only grows. [9]

Anti-labor CEO Andrew Puzder withdraws from consideration as Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Labor. 

DAY 28:  THE RUSSIAN RUSE
Thursday February 16, 2017

In his first solo press conference, Trump stands before the press and takes question after question, like a cornered pugilist, absorbing body blows and throwing punches at virtually every media institution and painting himself as the victim of unfair treatment.  It seems he particularly disdains CNN, the Times and the BBC. 

When all is said and done, Trump denies any wrongdoing in what he calls a ruse.  He denies giving Flynn the order to contact Russia on the day of the sanctions.  He denies knowledge of any Russian contacts by his staff during the campaign.  He denies owning anything in Russia.  He denies any Russian debts.  He denies having any deals in Russia. 

The president fired his good friend Flynn for misleading the vice president.  As far as he’s concerned, contacting the Russian ambassador to undermine President Obama’s action was perfectly okay – so okay he would have ordered Flynn to make the contact if he hadn’t done so on his own. 

Trump hasn’t worked out his argument.  He saves all his venom for the illegal leaks of classified information.  The problem is:  It is not illegal to leak fictional information; it is only illegal if the information is both valid and classified. 

The cards are on the table.  The bets are placed.  Either the president has told the truth and the story will pass or the president has lied and the truth will undo him. 

Protesters march in support of “A Day Without Immigrants.”  Documented and undocumented immigrants are called upon to miss work, skip school and forego shopping.  The action is partly in response to the first wave of deportations. 

The president promises to deal with the dreamers “with heart.”  Tell that to the families your mass deportation raids have already divided. 

He describes his administration as a “fine-tuned machine.”  We would like to see what dysfunctional looks like if this is a fine-tuned machine. 

In a departure from his norm the president nominates a highly qualified individual in Alexander Acosta to be Secretary of Labor.  He will also be the first Hispanic in Trump’s cabinet. 

After 28 days we are beginning to understand how much damage an unprepared president can do in a very short time.  We wait for the Republicans in congress to initiate the investigations that will bring this president down.  We will then continue the resistance against the new president. 

There are two years to the midterm elections and congressional districts are still gerrymandered for Republican control.  Any way you look at it, in the words of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld:  It’s going to be a long, hard slog. 

But we’re still here and we’re growing stronger. 

Jazz. 


1.  “National security advisor Flynn discussed sanctions with Russian ambassador, despite denials, officials say” by Greg Miller, Adam Entous and Ellen Nakashima.  Washington Post, February 9, 2017. 

2.  “FBI reviewed Flynn’s calls with Russian ambassador but found nothing illicit” by Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller.  Washington Post, January 23, 2017. 

3.  “Federal agents conduct immigration enforcement raids in at least six states” by Lisa Rein, Abigail Hauslohner and Sandhya Somashekhar.  Washington Post, February 11, 2017. 

4. “Exclusive - Trump border 'wall' to cost $21.6 billion, take 3.5 years to build: internal report” by Julia Edwards Ainsley.  Reuters, February 9, 2017.

5.  “Can an army of lawyers stop Trump’s mass deportations?” by David Iaconangelo.  Christian Science Monitor, February 11, 2017. 

6.  “NSA so concerned over Donald Trump’s ties to Russia they’ve ‘withheld information from presidential briefings’” by Jon Sharman.  Independent, February 13, 2017. 

7.  “Treasury Nominee Steve Mnuchin’s Bank Accused of ‘Widespread Misconduct’ in Leaked Memo” by David Dayen.  The Intercept, January 3, 2017. 

8.  “Did Iran Delay Hostages Release To Ensure Reagan’s Election?” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, October 1987. 

9.  “Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence” by Michael S. Schmidt, Mark Mazzetti and Matt Apuzzo.  NY Times, February 14, 2017. 

JACK RANDOM IS THE AUTHOR OF THE JAZZMAN CHRONICLES - VOLUMES I-X, GHOST DANCE INSURRECTION, PAWNS TO PLAYERS, WASICHU AND A PATRIOT DIRGE. 


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Friday, February 10, 2017

21 DAYS OF TRUMP 

 THE TRUMP DIARIES:  WEEK THREE
21 Days of Trump

By Jack Random


In his first fourteen days Donald Trump set a blistering pace with executive orders and began to deal with international crises.  The administration’s first military action, a Special Forces operation in Yemen, was by most accounts blundered.  Relations with ally Australia were strained by an awkward telephone call, protests continued to rise up, the first signs of easing sanctions on Russia appeared and Iran was placed “on notice.” 

This is the third installment of the Trump Diaries. 

DAY FIFTEEN:  IRAN SANCTIONS, ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS
February 3, 2017

The Treasury Department announces new sanctions on Iran in retaliation for testing a ballistic missile.  The action is limited to individuals and companies connected to the missile program and is designed not to affect the nuclear weapons treaty signed by the Obama administration along with five international partners:  Russia, Germany, France, China and Britain. 

The administration gently admonishes Israel for recklessly pursuing expanded settlements in occupied territories.  The admonition that expansion beyond existing settlements “may not be helpful” to the peace process suggests that the Trump White House may not be as loyal to the Israeli right as anticipated. 

In a busy Friday, Trump initiates the process of dismantling Dodd-Frank, the legislative fix to a runaway Wall Street that collapsed the global economy and put us on the precipice of a great depression. 

Federal courts issue conflicting rulings on the legality of Trump’s Muslim ban. District Judge James Robart in Seattle placed a temporary restraining order on the executive action, finding it discriminatory and unconstitutional. 

The unfolding Trump foreign policy is as convoluted and indecipherable as a maze in a deep cave.  How do you affect closer relations with Russia and its allies Iran and Syria while simultaneously endearing Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu?  How do you square UN Ambassador Nikki Haley’s condemnation of Russia in Ukraine and Crimea with Trump’s unbelievable defense of Vladimir Putin in his pre Super Bowl interview with Bill O’Reilly:  “There are a lot of killers.  What? Do you think our country’s so innocent?” 

No, Donald, we don’t think our country is so innocent and we do not condone our immoral wars or extrajudicial drone killings; but neither do we hesitate to condemn the assassination of journalists, political rivals and dissidents.  Is the president really presenting a profound moral conundrum or is this Trump’s golden rule:  Never criticize Vladimir Putin? 

The balance becomes even more delicate when you consider Iran’s critical role in fighting back the Islamic State in Iraq. 

DAY SIXTEEN:  “SO CALLED” PRESIDENT
February 4, 2017

The State Department under its newly confirmed Secretary Rex Tillerson begins the process of reinstating an estimated 60,000 visas cancelled under the president’s ill-conceived executive order.  The Department of Homeland Security announces it is suspending enforcement of the ban. 

From his estate in Mar-a-Lago the president goes on a twitter rampage against the “so-called” judge who had the audacity to stand up to him.  The “so-called” president’s rant runs from 4:59 to 5:12 am.  Does this man ever sleep? 

Protesters are back on the streets in London, Paris, Berlin, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, New York, Salt Lake City, Miami, San Francisco, Boulder, Manila and Jakarta.  The “so-called” president threatened to cut federal funding to Berkeley for a protest last Wednesday that erupted in violence.  Trump’s threat is empty but it does suggest he is suffering from delusions of grandeur. 

DAY SEVENTEEN:  BAN ON HOLD
February 5, 2017

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals turns back the Justice Department’s motion to put a stay on Judge Robart’s temporary restraining order, indicating the government failed to prove there would be irreparable harm. 

The president takes the day off to watch the Super Bowl and root for the New England Patriots.  Watching the Patriots come back from 25 down was like watching the election night coverage:  Unbelievable.  The impossible catch was like FBI Director James Comey’s surprise announcement and the final results were stunning.  No word on whether Putin tried to influence the game. 

DAY EIGHTEEN:  AWAITING JUSTICE
February 6, 2017

As we await the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals next ruling on lifting the hold on the Muslim travel ban, Trump accuses the media of deliberately propagating fake news.  He is particularly incensed that any polls would find that his Muslim ban is less than popular.  Maybe Steve Bannon should explain the concept of political courage to his boss:  A leader holds his ground on principle even when his decisions go against public opinion. 

The New York Times reports that Trump was angry at not being fully informed on the executive order that increased Steve Bannon’s authority and prominence.  Trump calls the story “complete fiction” but it has the ring of truth. [1]

Given the president’s insatiable ego, how long can Bannon last?  The more Bannon becomes the story as the brain behind the policies, the shorter his White House tenure. 

DAY NINETEEN:  WAR ON PUBLIC EDUCATION
February 7, 2017

The senate confirms Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education on a 50-50 vote with vice president Mike Pence casting the tiebreaker.  DeVos has one mission and that is to destroy public education by allowing public funds to go to private schools, including religious and for-profit charter schools. 

For those who don’t know how it works, it goes something like this:  Take under-funded public schools in disadvantaged neighborhoods, apply rigorous testing requirements and impossible standards of achievement.  When the schools fail to meet standards, pronounce them failures, cut funding and offer parents vouchers to attend charter schools.  The vouchers represent money that would have gone to the public school, thus creating a cycle of perpetual failure. 

Reminiscent of No Child Left Behind, the approach has never improved education and it certainly hasn’t in Michigan where DeVos was a major charter school advocate for two decades. [2, 3] 

Interesting side note:  Betsy’s brother is the founder of Blackwater USA, the mercenary army responsible for so much chaos, death and destruction in Iraq. 

DAY TWENTY:  LAST STAND AT STANDING ROCK
February 8, 2017

In compliance with an executive order, the Army Corps of Engineers approved an easement to clear the way for completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Veterans Stand issues a call for its members to return to North Dakota for a “Last Stand” to block the project. [4]

Energy Transfer Partners has completed all but the last 1,100 feet of the pipeline that courses under Lake Oahe, a reservoir of the Missouri River only a half-mile upstream of the Standing Rock Reservation.  What could possibly go wrong? 

The great fear is what happens if and when the cameras are turned off and no one is paying attention.  These are very brave people enduring harsh conditions for a cause that belongs to us all. 

With the president seated in the Oval Office, CEO Brian Krzanich announces Intel’s intention to invest seven billion dollars in a new factory in the notorious anti-labor “Right to Work” state of Arizona.  If there was ever any question, the Trump administration intends a full-scale assault on the rights of labor. 

The senate confirms Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions as the next Attorney General by a 52 to 47 vote.  There was a time when claiming the accomplishments of someone else was a sufficient impunity of character to block a nomination to high office but that is not the case with Sessions.  On his questionnaire for the Senate Judiciary Committee he listed four cases involving voting rights and civil rights as among his legal accomplishments during his tenure as Alabama’s Attorney General.  It turns out he had little to do with any of them. [5]

Painting Jeff Sessions as a champion of civil rights is like citing Judy Miller as an example of journalistic integrity.  Nevertheless he is our Attorney General. 

DAY TWENTY-ONE:  JUDICIAL BLOWBACK
February 9, 2017

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issues a stern rebuke to the imperial presidency of Donald Trump by upholding Judge James Robart’s stay on the Muslim ban. 

Civics lesson 101:  The United States is governed by three co-equal branches of government.  Get used to it.  You are not the king. 

Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut reveals that Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch labeled the president’s attacks on the judiciary “demoralizing” and “disheartening.”  Trump responds by attacking the messenger for misrepresenting his nominee’s comments.  The account is supported by multiple sources on both sides of the political aisle. [6] 

If Trump accepts the reality of Gorsuch’s criticism, he may well withdraw the nomination.  He seems incapable of accepting any criticism or acknowledgement that his actions or judgments are wrong.  This case presents a dilemma:  Either his judgment in selecting Gorsuch was wrong or his denunciations of a federal judge are wrong. 

Trump signs three more executive actions designed to portray him as a “law and order” president.  He believes we are in the midst of a historic crime wave though statistics do not comply with his belief system. [7]

While some suggest that Gorsuch is just playing the game to win confirmation, he offers a good beginning to the Trump presidential experience through 21 days:  Demoralizing, disheartening, disingenuous, despicable, dishonest, demeaning, defiant and delusional. 

But we’re still here. 

Jazz.


1.  “Trump and Staff Rethink Tactics After Stumbles” by Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman.  NY Times, February 5, 2017. 

2.  “DeVos’ Michigan schools experiment gets poor grades” by Caitlen Emma, Benjamin Wermund and Kimberly Hefling.  Politico, December 9, 2016. 

3.  “Betsy DeVos and the Wrong Way to Fix Schools” by Douglas N. Harris.  NY Times Editorials, November 25, 2016. 

4.  “Veterans return to Standing Rock, ‘not back off’ pipeline protests” by Nikki Wentling.  Stars and Stripes, February 8, 2017. 

5.  “Jeff Sessions says he handled these civil rights cases.  He barely touched them.”  Editorial by J. Gerald Hebert, Joseph D. Rich and William Yeomans.  Washington Post, January 3, 2017.  

6.  “Supreme Court Nominee Calls Trump’s Attacks on Judiciary ‘Demoralizing’” by Julie Hirschfield Davis.  NY Times, February 8, 2017. 

7.  “Fact-checking Trump’s rhetoric on crime and the ‘American Carnage’” by Michelle Ye Hee Lee.  Washington Post, January 30, 2107. 


JACK RANDOM IS THE AUTHOR OF THE JAZZMAN CHRONICLES, GHOST DANCE INSURRECTION, PAWNS TO PLAYERS: A MATCH FOR THE WHITE HOUSE, WASICHU: THE KILLING SPIRIT AND RANDOM JACK: TALES FROM JAZZTOWN (CROW DOG PRESS). 

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Saturday, February 04, 2017

FOURTEEN DAYS OF TRUMP 

 THE TRUMP DIARIES:  Days 8-14

By Jack Random


In his first seven days Donald Trump signed thirteen executive orders, setting the tone for his presidency.  I begin to wonder if the president realizes that most of these executive orders are symbolic.  The emperor hands down his daily decree and his loyal servants inform the multitudes. 

This is the second installment of the Trump Diaries. 

DAY EIGHT:  THE BAN ON MUSLIMS
January 27, 2017

The president signs an executive action calling for a four-month freeze on admitting refugees from war torn nations – Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Sudan and Somalia.  The ban on Syrian refugees is described as indefinite.  Once the freeze is lifted the administration will put in place “extreme vetting.”  No one knows what that is exactly since the current vetting process is extremely rigorous.  The order also cancels visas for individuals from the target countries.  Trump suggests he will adjust the ban to give priority to Christians and other religious minorities.  The administration denies that the ban is based on religion, a distinction that would clearly make it unconstitutional. 

No one is surprised at the bigotry of the ban but the ignorance of its administration is striking.  We have military and intelligence personnel on the ground in these nations whose lives may depend on the cooperation of locals.  We’ve made promises and now those promises will not be delivered.  Individuals with fully vetted visas from Iraq and Syria were denied entry into the United States.  Among the detained are an Iranian scientist, an interpreter who worked for the Americans in Iraq and a Syrian family cleared for relocation in Ohio.  Protestors have answered the call at New York’s JFK airport.  As the protest spreads, the president will have to amend his order or face consequences he could not have imagined. 

A second executive order calls for making the most powerful military machine on earth stronger, bigger and better with more ships, planes and weaponry.  The action is pointless because it requires the appropriations of congress. 

DAY NINE:  TELEPHONE DIPLOMACY
January 28, 2017

The president has telephone conversations with the leaders of Japan, Germany, France, Australia and Russia.  As leader of the only nation to ratify the Trans Pacific Partnership, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will want assurances on trade as well as security.  Candidate Trump called for Japan and NATO to pay significantly more for American military protection.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel will want to talk trade, refugees and relations with Russia.  Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, a signatory of the TPP, will remind the president of his nation’s loyalty to America’s militarism and ask for trade considerations.  French President Francois Hollande will have a short conversation about the logistics of taking back the Statue of Liberty.  He steps down in the spring. 

That of course leaves President/Emperor Vladimir Putin who may wish to take a bow for Trump’s surprise ascension to the American throne.  We can be sure that many ears are tuned to this exchange.  How long before the sanctions levied by Barack Obama and fortified by congress are lifted under the pretense of a new era of cooperation?  What role if any will America play in Syria?  Will Trump sign off on Crimea and Ukraine?  It all depends on what Putin has in his little black book.  Place your bets. 

I’m betting he has something.  With Trump, a man of uncertain character and documented sexual proclivities, we cannot rule out an embarrassing sex tape but it might as well be a crooked business deal or an unsavory foreign debt.  I’m betting the Central Intelligence Agency knows exactly what it is.

In an effort to gain entry in the Guinness Book of World Records, the president signs three more executive orders:  One orders a restructuring of the National Security Council, the second bans lobbying by administration members until five years after their service and the third is a request for a plan to defeat the Islamic State.  

DAY TEN:  MUSLIM BAN BLOWBACK
January 29, 2017

Protestors answer the call by the hundreds and thousands as story after story of detained women, children and university students are chronicled in the local and national media.  Attorneys win early appeals to stay the deportation of detainees but not necessarily to win their release.  Mass confusion reigns as the agencies involved do not know what to do with green card holders and do not know what to advise individuals from the target nations trying to return to America.  Iran announces reciprocal measures.  The Iraqi parliament discusses banning American contractors.  Canadian PM Justin Trudeau offers to receive the refugees America refuses. 

Was this the law of unintended consequences and the product of an ill-conceived policy or did Trump expect his Muslim ban to trigger a wave of protests at airports across the nation, multiple challenges in court and widespread international backlash?  Is he a master of chaos or a president unprepared for the job? 

It seems the Trump administration made some attempt to disguise the ban as something other than religion-based.  Whether it will survive legal challenges is an open question but it will not survive the international court of public opinion.  At this juncture not even Britain’s Theresa May is defending his policy. 

DAY ELEVEN:  MUSLIM BAN BACKTRACK
January 30, 2017

As the blowback spreads and the resistance rises across the globe, the White House backtracks on the inclusion of green card holders – i.e., legal residents but not citizens of the United States – in what the administration continues to insist is not a Muslim ban. 

The Iraqi parliament now recommends a reciprocal ban on Americans – a ban that might pose problems for oil executives and special operations forces involved in the fight against the Islamic State. [1]  Chancelor Angela Merkel reminds Trump that his action violates the Geneva Convention on accepting refugees. [2]

Former president Barrack Obama breaks with tradition by siding with protestors on the ban, issuing a statement through a spokesman that he is “heartened” by the engagement of citizens around the country. 

Trump signs an executive order directing federal agencies to cut two regulations for every one added.  How the president came up with a two-for-one ratio is not explained.  If it’s good for Subway, it’s good for government.  The first target of the anti-regulation campaign will be environmental protection.  The second will be Wall Street. 

Finally, press secretary Sean Spicer insists with inexplicable passion that the president’s restructuring of the National Security Council is nothing to fret about.  The order is a clear promotion of alternative rightwing media mastermind Steve Bannon to prominence in the Trump administration and that is something to fret about. 

DAY TWELVE:  SUPREME COURT NOMINEE
January 31, 2017

The president announces his nominee to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.  Federal appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch is cut from the same cloth as Chief Justice John Roberts and fellow George W. Bush appointee Samuel Alito.  He is above all a corporate loyalist, believing that corporations deserve all of the rights and privileges of citizenship.  His rulings point to a religious bent in jurisprudence, holding that corporations as individuals are not obliged to follow laws that offend their religious beliefs. 

The court will not change substantially when the Senate ultimately approves this nominee or someone just like him.  It will almost certainly change with the next opening on the court.  Liberal lion Ruth Bader Ginsberg is approaching 84 years of age.  Liberal ally Stephen Breyer is 78 and traditional swing vote Anthony Kennedy is 80.  It is not realistic to expect all three to serve another four years.  When the new court is seated the majority will take dead aim at women’s rights, labor rights, voting rights, civil rights, civil liberties and the environment. 

The Supreme Court is the greatest single danger the Trump administration poses to civilization on the planet earth.  If the party of opposition can muster any courage at all, they should fight every Trump nominee for the high court until he is no longer in office.  They should fight him on the grounds that his presidency is illegitimate.  There is too much at stake to fall back on politics as usual.  Force them to kill the filibuster and good riddance!  Unfortunately, if history teaches us anything at all it is not to expect courage from the Democratic Party. 

DAY THIRTEEN:  THE NUCLEAR OPTION
February 1, 2017

President Trump encourages Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to invoke the so-called “nuclear option” if needed to secure confirmation of his Supreme Court nominee.  The move could lead to the end of the senate filibuster.  The distinctly anti-democratic rule was used to block legislation and presidential appointees during the Obama administration until the Democrats voted in 2013 to lift the 60-vote super majority requirement on judicial and cabinet member appointments with the Supreme Court exempted.  Who can doubt that this president will demand an end to the filibuster for legislation as well if it stands in his way? [3]

Threatening the “nuclear option” is designed to send waves of terror through the regal halls of the US Senate.  It would reduce the elitist status of that body to a semi-democratic institution.  Traditional members of the senate have long considered themselves an American version of the House of Lords.  It’s time to come down from the tower and breathe the people’s air.  Let the filibuster die.  It has long outlived its usefulness. 

National Security Advisor Michael Flynn officially places Iran “on notice” after a ballistic missile test.  Former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson is confirmed as Secretary of State by a 56-43 vote, overcoming concerns regarding his cozy business relationship with Russia. 

It could be worse.  The president could have threatened the nuclear option with Iran and put the Senate Democrats on notice.  Given reports of his phone conversations with the president of Mexico and the prime minister of Australia, anything is possible. [4]

DAY FOURTEEN:  WHITE HOUSE ON NOTICE
February 2, 2017

The press puts the White House on notice that it will not get a pass on “easing sanctions” on Russia.  The sanctions were put in place by the Obama administration in retaliation for interference in the presidential election for the purpose of electing Donald J. Trump. [5]

The Treasury Department issued a statement that it would allow limited transactions between American companies and the Federal Security Service (FSB).  The successor to the KGB is one of two Russian intelligence agencies accused of cyber attacks to disrupt and influence the election.  White House press secretary Sean Spicer defended the action as only a technical fix. 

The president remains stunningly silent on the explosion of violence in Ukraine – the fifth day of escalating conflict.  Russia’s Putin blames the Ukrainian government.  Senator John McCain calls on Trump to stand up against Russian aggression. 

The U.S. Central Command is conducting a review of Sunday’s raid on a suspected terrorist collaborator’s home in the mountains of Yemen.  The first authorized military operation by President Trump resulted in the killing of Navy Seal William “Ryan” Owens, fourteen “militants” and an estimated 16-30 civilians, including ten women and children.  According to Reuters News Agency, military officials reported that Trump approved the operation “without sufficient intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparations.” [6, 7]

Does anyone remember Benghazi? 

At the National Prayer Breakfast, Trump vows to repeal the Johnson Amendment – an IRS rule prohibiting the endorsement of political candidates from the pulpit. 

After fourteen days of Trump I am reminded of biblical prophecies of doom:  Ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars.  See that ye not be troubled for all these things must come to pass but the end is not yet.  Matthew 24:6. 

Given the alt-right’s prominence in the Trump administration, I wonder if this is exactly what they had in mind. 

But the end is not yet and we’re still here. 

Jazz. 

1.  “Iraq’s parliament has voted to ‘retaliate’ against Donald Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’” by Bethan McKernan.  Independent, January 30, 2017. 

2.  “Merkel reminds Trump of Geneva Convention’s refugee policy” by Mallory Shelbourne.  The Hill, January 29, 2017. 

3.  “GOP going nuclear over Gorsuch might destroy filibuster forever” by Richard A. Arenberg.  The Hill, February 1, 2017. 

4.  “Report:  Trump lashes out at Australian PM on phone call” by Max Greenwood.  The Hill, February 1, 2017. 

5.  “U.S. eases sanctions on Russian intelligence agency” by Joel Schectman and Dustin Volz.  Reuters, February 2, 2017. 

6.  “U.S. military probing more possible civilian deaths in Yemen raid” by Ayesha Rascoe.  Reuters, February 2, 2017. 

7.  “Raid in Yemen:  Risky From the Start and Costly in the End” by Eric Schmitt and David E. Sanger.  New York Times, February 1, 2017. 

JACK RANDOM IS THE AUTHOR OF THE JAZZMAN CHRONICLES, D’ARC UNDERGROUND & OTHER PLAYS, NUMBER NINE: THE ADVENTURES OF JAKE JONES & RUBY DAULTON AND PAWNS TO PLAYERS: A MATCH FOR THE WHITE HOUSE. 

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Friday, January 27, 2017

SEVEN DAYS OF TRUMP 

 THE TRUMP DIARIES:  THE FIRST SEVEN DAYS

By Jack Random


After eight years of chronicling the wars and disastrous policies of George W. Bush and eight more years tracking the ups and downs of Barack Obama, I am less than enthused about the four-year lament that lies before us.  Nevertheless, I have begun a daily ritual of recording the notable events of the Trump administration.  From the beginning I freely confess I am not a Trump supporter and my observations are anything but objective.  I stand with the opposition.  I stand with Standing Rock.  I stand with the Women’s March on Washington and the millions who marched across America and Europe to pledge their resistance. 

Though I hope against hope he does more good than harm, I believe we are observing an unfolding catastrophe of historic proportions.  I considered the son of Bush the worst president in modern history.  Next to Trump, Bush almost seems presidential. 

Here then is the first installment of the Trump Diaries. 

DAY ONE:  THE INAUGURATION
Friday, January 20, 2017

Chief Justice John Roberts administers the oath of office to the newly anointed president: Donald J. Trump.  Trump delivers a truncated inaugural address painting a portrait of an American nightmare.  He waves the flag of patriotism and pledges to place America first.  His real message:  There will be no unification.  There will be no softening.  He will stick to the hard line that got him to the White House. 

The crowd at the National Mall is small relative to expectations and past inaugurations, lending hope that the passion of his loyal followers, the passion that led them to one of the greatest political upsets in modern history, the loyalty of the throng is at last abating.  Maybe even they are awakening to the reality that they were played and that Vladimir Putin was the master that played them. 

DAY TWO:  THE RESISTANCE
Saturday, January 21, 2017

Reminiscent of the mass protests on the eve of the Iraq War, millions gather on the streets of protest led by the Women’s March in Washington D.C.  Michael Moore rightly pins the blame on the donkey, pleading for a new and younger Democratic Party – one that can address the pressing needs of working people.  The overriding question is:  Can this movement be sustained? 

After weeks of demeaning the intelligence community, the new president drops in at CIA headquarters in Langley to pledge his allegiance and complain that the media deliberately underestimated his inaugural gathering.  I suspect this event was staged.  If it wasn’t then the agency is staffed by individuals who will not hesitate to applaud the miscellaneous ramblings of an egomaniac if he carries the weight of commander-in-chief.  Could it be our leading intelligence analysts cannot decipher when they are being patronized? 

DAY THREE:  ALTERNATIVE FACTS
Sunday, January 22, 2017

Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway defends White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s bizarre claim that the president attracted “the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration” by stating that Spicer accessed “alternative facts.” 

As a writer I believe in the precise use of words.  The media as well as our nation’s leading politicians have leveled the accusation of “lying” so frequently that it begins to lose impact.  To lie is to deliberately misstate the facts.  Did Spicer deliberately substitute fake facts for real facts or is he living in an alternative reality?  Since the same question applies to Spicer’s boss:  Which is more frightening? 

In a meeting with high-level administrative personnel at the White House, Trump makes a point of singling out and shaking hands with the one individual who, more than any other – more than Kellyanne Conway or Steve Bannon or Vladimir Putin – was responsible for making him president:  FBI Director James Comey. 

DAY FOUR:  FREE AND FAIR TRADE
Monday, January 23, 2017

In the first full work day of his administration, Trump withdraws from the Trans Pacific Partnership.  Spokesman Sean Spicer makes it clear that the president supports bilateral “free and fair trade.”  Not one of the press corps bothers to point out that “free” and “fair” trade are polar opposites.  It is the first oxymoronic, Orwellian phrase of the Trump administration.  We can be sure many will follow. 

The withdrawal from the TPP is of course only symbolic since the trade pact was never enacted.  Of the twelve member nations, only Japan had ratified the agreement.  NAFTA, CAFTA and membership in the WTO are on hold for now.  If Trump is serious about withdrawing from these free trade deals, he could post notice today and the withdrawal would take effect six months from now [1].  If he’s not serious then he has perpetrated one of the greatest electoral frauds in political history.  Stay tuned. 

DAY FIVE:  OIL TRUMPS CLIMATE CHANGE
Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Two days after forty-one tornadoes rip a path of destruction like Sherman’s march across the South, the forty-fifth president signs executive orders clearing the way for Canadian oil to be pumped to the Gulf of Mexico.  In supporting the Dakota and Keystone oil pipelines he declares his contempt for climate change science, renewable energy and the sacred lands of native peoples. 

If you stand with the Standing Rock Lakota you cannot stand with this president; if you believe in science, you cannot believe in this administration; and if you are sworn to protect mother earth you must oppose these policies. 

The president repeats his claim that millions voted illegally in the November election and all voted for his opponent, moving seamlessly from alternative facts to alternative reality. 

DAY SIX:  BRICK IN THE WALL
Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The president signs an executive order directing the Department of Homeland Security to begin building an impenetrable barrier on our southern border.  Trump is only beginning to understand the limitations and complications involved in erecting The Wall.  There are currently about 650 miles of fencing on a border of roughly 2,000 miles.  Trump has repeatedly said he wants a Wall – a beautiful, awesome, Major League Wall – but he has occasionally said he would settle for fencing in “certain areas.” There are limited funds for extending fencing but nowhere near the estimated $15-40 billion required for the full Monty. [2] 

There are laws governing construction along the border, including a 1970 treaty with Mexico that among other things bans barriers that obstruct the flow of rivers.  There is also the stubborn fact that much of the borderland is owned by private individuals, many of whom do not want Trump’s wall on their property.  He continues to insist that Mexico will pay for it “one hundred percent” though Mexico’s leaders vehemently deny it and no one but Trump really believes it.  Finally, there is the question of who will build The Wall if not migrant workers from Mexico.  If it falls to the Army Corps of Engineers let us hope they do a better job than they did on New Orleans’ levees.

Trump the candidate made The Wall the centerpiece of his campaign.  It seems Trump the president is determined to keep it front and center.  Here’s my prediction:  If he manages to waste billions constructing a Major League Wall, a future president will be elected on the pledge to tear it down. 

As for Trump’s pledge to rid the nation of dangerous criminals among the illegal immigrant population, it is hard to distinguish his policy from his predecessor’s.  The new president will, however, make good on his promise to cut off federal funds to Sanctuary Cities.  None of them voted for Trump.  

DAY SEVEN:  TRADE WAR & VOTER FRAUD
Thursday, January 26, 2017

On the seventh day the president doubles down on the myth of mass voter fraud and the coming trade war with Mexico. 

While no one in either party or the media backed up his claim of a conspiracy to deprive him of the popular vote, Trump repeats his call for a federal investigation.  Some critics believe his accusation foreshadows a wave of voter suppression laws.  That wave has already swept the nation though the courts have struck down the most egregious laws on grounds of racial discrimination.  The new Justice Department will not bring such cases before the court so there are certainly grounds for concern.  My concern is that the president is delusional and actually believes that three million Mexican immigrants voted illegally just to deprive him of the popular vote. [3] Why George Soros and Warren Buffet didn’t send them to Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Florida is beyond reckoning.  We sure didn’t need them in California. 

A formal investigation would reveal that the conspiracy is a myth invented by the rightwing propaganda machine and thus undermine the voter suppression laws the Republicans are still determined to pass. 

Meantime, President Enrique Pena Nieto announces his cancellation of the planned meeting with our new president.  Trump counters that the cancellation was a mutual decision and later floats the idea of a twenty percent tariff on imported goods from Mexico.  This is not what we had in mind for trade policy.  We do not wish to punish our neighbor for refusing to pay for a wall it does not want.  We want a trade policy that stands up for the workers of both nations.  Mexican workers deserve a living wage, decent working conditions and union representation just as ours do. 

We now know what Trump has in mind:  He will use tariffs to punish nations who do not bow to his will.  This is hardly Fair Trade.  It is Trump Trade and I don’t see many nations lining up to be Trumped.  It was interesting watching British Prime Minister Theresa May stand before the same Republican audience in Philadelphia that Trump previously addressed.  She delivered a strong defense of Free Trade, the International Monetary Fund and NATO: the polar opposites of what Trump has advocated. 

I have to give him credit:  His first seven days have been interesting, eventful and we’re still alive.  While he has not yet been tested by an international crisis or a national disaster, he has demonstrated his intention to hold true on his campaign promises.  As so often is the case, the devil is in the details. 

Jazz. 

1.  “Termination or Modification of US Trade Agreements.”  White & Case LLP, January 13, 2017. 

2.  “Donald Trump is Moving Forward with his Wall.  Is it Really Going to Happen?” by Danielle Kurtzleben.  NPR Politics, January 25, 2017. 

3.  “He Claimed There Were Three Million ‘Illegal Voters.’ Now He Says He May Name Them.” by Ben Collins and Olivia Nuzzi.  The Daily Beast, January 24, 2017. 


JACK RANDOM IS THE AUTHOR OF THE JAZZMAN CHRONICLES, HARD TIMES: THE WRATH OF AN ANGRY GOD, APACHE JACK: NATIVE VISIONS & STORIES AND RANDOM JACK: TALES FROM JAZZTOWN (CROW DOG PRESS). 

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