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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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