Friday Trump Roundup - 8
This is my semi-regular feature to post links to articles about Donald Trump along with excerpts from those articles. Trump has the potential to cause so much damage to our country and the world that it's every citizen's responsibility to keep pressure on him and our other elected officials to try to minimize the damage. To read previous entries in this series and other Trump related posts, check out my Trump archives.
This is going to be a very difficult and dangerous four years. Trump's only been in office two weeks, and he's already outdone himself in horrible actions and executive orders. But the problem is, he keeps committing all these bad deeds so rapidly, that his previous misdeeds fade into the background. Remember his conflicts of interest and his refusal to put his businesses in a blind trust, or breaking anit-nepotism laws by appointing his son-in-law as a senior advisor, or breaking the emolumnets clause of the Constitution? Yeah - all huge problems that should be sources of public outcry at the least, and possible impeachment for blatantly flouting the law and the Constitution. But he just creates new controversies, and those previous controversies get forgotten.
Don't forget his past crimes and misdeeds, but his latest actions can't go unmentioned, either. Here are this week's links.
"After President Trump signed an executive order on Saturday giving the Joint Chiefs of Staff 30 days to devise a plan for destroying ISIS, I emailed several senior U.S. military officers--some active duty, some retired, all with combat experience in our recent wars--and asked them what sort of plan the chiefs should submit. / One of the officers, a general, wrote back, 'They might begin by telling him to lift this stupid and heinous visa ban.' / The remark highlights a big problem not just with Trump's scattershot orders but also with his tenure so far as commander in chief: He doesn't seem to understand the political nature of war or the strategic consequences of politics."
"Is Donald Trump effectively acting as an ISIS recruiting sergeant? The research we and other social psychologists have conducted in recent years suggests that the answer is probably yes." ... "Trump's Executive Order is even more harmful than most overreactions. It is not even a response to some outrage. And it gives especially strong ammunition to those in ISIS and other groups who argue that Americans see Muslims as their enemy and hence act as the enemy of Muslims. Moqtada al-Sadr, a leader of the anti-American insurgency in Iraq, responded immediately to Trump's ban by arguing that Americans be thrown out of his country. Renad Mansour, a Middle East expert at Chatham House points out in TIME that Sadr and others can now say to those Muslim moderates who challenged their "apocalyptic ideology of hatred" (to reprise the words of McCain and Graham): "I told you so."" ... "In short, Donald Trump needs enemies to validate his worldview as much as ISIS needs an American enemy to validate theirs. As long as Trump's provocative actions make him an effective recruiting sergeant to his own cause, we cannot expect him to stop doing things that make him an equally effective recruiting sergeant for ISIS."
"A newly minted leader with no experience governing at home or establishing policy abroad now oversees the United States' vast diplomatic enterprise. US President Donald Trump has a deep bench of scientific and technical expertise to tap across multiple government agencies -- but it is not clear that he will use it." ... "Science diplomats are watching warily to see whether the volatile new president will draw on the best available evidence when setting foreign policy. So far, his isolationist tendencies are winning: Trump is reportedly considering whether to pull the United States back from international organizations such as the United Nations." ... "Trump has said that he supports high-tech businesses and investments that would keep the United States a global leader. But if he withdraws the country from the worldwide stage, other nations may soon surpass it in scientific and technical innovation, says Colón."
"Donald Trump has already earned his reputation of nominating candidates for his cabinet-level positions who face stiff opposition from the science and tech community. ... On Tuesday, Trump continued this streak by tapping Jerry Falwell Jr. to head up a presidential task force charged with suggesting reforms for the Department of Education." ... "Falwell is apparently not too big on the sciences, at least as they have conventionally been taught. That is, science courses at Liberty University take the Bible to be a historically accurate document rather than a collection of parables. Falwell's input could have a debilitating effect on the direction of higher education..." ... "He is clearly not a fan of the LGBTQ+ movement, if his school's draconian student code of conduct is any indication. 'Sexual relations outside of a biblically ordained marriage between a natural-born man and a natural born woman are not permissible,' the code reads. Nor is Falwell Jr. a proponent of sexual education. Liberty University's publication, the Liberty Champion, has repeatedly argued against the need for sexual education for both middle and grade school children. Rather than educate kids, the publication instead promotes an abstinence-only stance."
"For the community of conservative thinkers and experts, and more importantly, conservative politicians, this is a testing time. Either you stand up for your principles and for what you know is decent behavior, or you go down, if not now, then years from now, as a coward or opportunist. Your reputation will never recover, nor should it." ... "There was nothing unanticipated in this first disturbing week of the Trump administration. It will not get better. Americans should therefore steel themselves, and hold their representatives to account. Those in a position to take a stand should do so, and those who are not should lay the groundwork for a better day. There is nothing great about the America that Trump thinks he is going to make; but in the end, it is the greatness of America that will stop him."
"It should have been one of the most congenial calls for the new commander in chief -- a conversation with the leader of Australia, one of America's staunchest allies, at the end of a triumphant week. / Instead, President Trump blasted Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over a refugee agreement and boasted about the magnitude of his electoral college win, according to senior U.S. officials briefed on the Saturday exchange. Then, 25 minutes into what was expected to be an hour-long call, Trump abruptly ended it." ... "Trump told Peña Nieto in last Friday's call, according to the Associated Press, which said it reviewed a transcript of part of the conversation, 'You have a bunch of bad hombres down there. You aren't doing enough to stop them. I think your military is scared. Our military isn't, so I just might send them down to take care of it.' "
"The Trump administration wants to revamp and rename a U.S. government program designed to counter all violent ideologies so that it focuses solely on Islamist extremism, five people briefed on the matter told Reuters. / The program, 'Countering Violent Extremism,' or CVE, would be changed to 'Countering Islamic Extremism' or 'Countering Radical Islamic Extremism,' the sources said, and would no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States."
"CIA director Mike Pompeo was 'blindsided' by a draft executive order that could open the door for American intelligence agencies to resume waterboarding and other 'enhanced interrogation techniques' at newly reopened CIA 'black site' prisons overseas, according to a source familiar with conversations he has had about the document. / Trump, in an interview with ABC News anchor David Muir released Wednesday night, indicated he is in fact considering reinstating waterboarding because he believes it 'absolutely' works."
Updated 2017-02-03: Added last article