Trump Archive

Friday, February 17, 2017

Friday Trump & Politics Roundup - 10

Donald TrumpThis 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.

I find myself varying between opposite extremes in my reaction to Trump so far. On the one hand, he's doing / attempting to do really bad things - conflicts of interest and his refusal to put his businesses in a blind trust, breaking anti-nepotism laws, breaking the emoluments clause of the Constitution, the immigration ban, his horrible cabinet appointments and obvious cronyism ... well, everything I've been calling attention to in these posts. But then, I see him behave like he did in his press conference, and I'm tempted to believe he's so incompetent that he's not going to be able to accomplish anything. Then I go and read articles about how nobody took Hitler seriously until it was too late (like this one - Early Warnings: How American Journalists Reported the Rise of Hitler), and I'm back to being worried again (just to be clear - I don't think Trump is the next Hitler, but there are some unsettling parallels in tactics. More info: Salon - Donald Trump: Not exactly Hitler! But his "Nazi Germany" comments conceal a dark parallel pattern and The Independent - Donald Trump using Adolf Hitler's 'Mein Kampf' playbook, says world expert on Nazi leader).

Anyway, here are this week's articles.


Vox - Why Trump just killed a rule restricting coal companies from dumping waste in streams

"On Thursday, President Trump signed the bill, which means the stream protection rule is now dead. Coal companies will have a freer hand in dumping mining debris in streams. / Killing this regulation won't exactly fulfill Trump's goal of reversing the coal industry's decline; that decline has more to do with cheap natural gas than anything else. Instead, Republicans are mostly focusing on this rule because they can. Because the stream protection rule wasn't finished until very late in 2016, it's much, much easier to kill than most of the other Obama-era rules around coal pollution. It was a ready target, so long as the GOP acted fast." ... "In the end, environmentalists weren't thrilled with the rule -- many groups didn't think it went far enough to restrict the dumping of debris, and they don't believe coal companies can restore damaged streams fully to their prior state after mining. But on balance, they thought the rule an improvement over the status quo. An outside analysis suggested the rule would improve water quality in 262 miles of streams throughout Appalachia."

Related: Vox - Want to see why Trump will struggle to save the coal industry? Look at Michigan.


Vox - Fact-checking Trump's claim that he has no business ties to Russia

"Trump has a long history of trying to do business in Russia, but despite many efforts and plenty of boasting and angling, he hasn't managed to land a single major real estate deal there. / But that's only part of the picture. He has partnered with Russian financiers on major projects elsewhere around the world. Russian investors have been instrumental in helping him cope with all the credit problems he has thanks to his serial bankruptcies. And a number of Trump's former and current advisers have had financial ties to Russia."


Raw Story - Trump just gave a weapons-grade crazy press conference -- here are the 7 most insane moments

"President Donald Trump held a press conference today in which he once again boasted about his November election win and attacked the mainstream media for producing 'fake news.' / But beyond the usual boasting and bashing, the president made several jaw-dropping statements that were surprising even by his standards. Below, we'll go over the seven craziest moments at today's press conference." ... "1.Trump says that while the leaks coming out of his administration are real, the news stories being written about them are still fake news." ... "2.Trump falsely claims that his electoral college victory this past November was the biggest since Ronald Reagan's." ... "3.Trump said he was fine with WikiLeaks because it never leaked classified information." ... "4.Trump dismisses GOP town hall protesters because most of them are Democrats." ... "5.Trump insists that the alternative to getting along with Russia could be 'nuclear holocaust.' " ... "6.Trump shouts down a Jewish reporter who asked him about rising anti-Semitism." ... "7.Trump asked a black reporter to help him set up a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus."


Japan Times - Japan's interpreters struggle to make sense of 'Trumpese'

"As political leaders in Japan pay close attention to how U.S. President Donald Trump will go in office, so, too, are interpreters who have had a nightmarish experience translating his disjointed speeches." ... " 'He is so overconfident and yet so logically unconvincing that my interpreter friends and I often joke that if we translated his words as they are, we would end up making ourselves sound stupid,' Tsuruta, who is also a professor of interpreting and translation studies at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, said in a recent interview.


N.Y. Times Op-ed - When the Fire Comes

"What will you do when terrorists attack, or U.S. friction with some foreign power turns into a military confrontation? I don't mean in your personal life, where you should keep calm and carry on. I mean politically. Think about it carefully: The fate of the republic may depend on your answer." ... "We're only three weeks into the Trump administration, but it's already clear that any hopes that Mr. Trump and those around him would be even slightly ennobled by the responsibilities of office were foolish. Every day brings further evidence that this is a man who completely conflates the national interest with his personal self-interest, and who has surrounded himself with people who see it the same way. And each day also brings further evidence of his lack of respect for democratic values." ... "In the end, I fear, it's going to rest on the people -- on whether enough Americans are willing to take a public stand. We can't handle another post-9/11-style suspension of doubt about the man in charge; if that happens, America as we know it will soon be gone."


The Atlantic - How to Build an Autocracy: The preconditions are present in the U.S. today. Here's the playbook Donald Trump could use to set the country down a path toward illiberalism.

[I'm pulling out a lot of quotes from this one. I really recommend reading the whole thing.]

"No society, not even one as rich and fortunate as the United States has been, is guaranteed a successful future. When early Americans wrote things like "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty," they did not do so to provide bromides for future bumper stickers. They lived in a world in which authoritarian rule was the norm, in which rulers habitually claimed the powers and assets of the state as their own personal property."

"What has happened in Hungary since 2010 offers an example--and a blueprint for would-be strongmen. Hungary is a member state of the European Union and a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights. It has elections and uncensored internet. Yet Hungary is ceasing to be a free country."

"Outside the Islamic world, the 21st century is not an era of ideology. The grand utopian visions of the 19th century have passed out of fashion. The nightmare totalitarian projects of the 20th have been overthrown or have disintegrated, leaving behind only outdated remnants: North Korea, Cuba. What is spreading today is repressive kleptocracy, led by rulers motivated by greed rather than by the deranged idealism of Hitler or Stalin or Mao. Such rulers rely less on terror and more on rule-twisting, the manipulation of information, and the co-optation of elites."

"Donald Trump, however, represents something much more radical. A president who plausibly owes his office at least in part to a clandestine intervention by a hostile foreign intelligence service? Who uses the bully pulpit to target individual critics? Who creates blind trusts that are not blind, invites his children to commingle private and public business, and somehow gets the unhappy members of his own political party either to endorse his choices or shrug them off? If this were happening in Honduras, we'd know what to call it. It's happening here instead, and so we are baffled."

" 'Populist-fueled democratic backsliding is difficult to counter,' wrote the political scientists Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Erica Frantz late last year. 'Because it is subtle and incremental, there is no single moment that triggers widespread resistance or creates a focal point around which an opposition can coalesce ... Piecemeal democratic erosion, therefore, typically provokes only fragmented resistance.' Their observation was rooted in the experiences of countries ranging from the Philippines to Hungary. It could apply here too."

"If citizens learn that success in business or in public service depends on the favor of the president and his ruling clique, then it's not only American politics that will change. The economy will be corrupted too, and with it the larger culture. A culture that has accepted that graft is the norm, that rules don't matter as much as relationships with those in power, and that people can be punished for speech and acts that remain theoretically legal--such a culture is not easily reoriented back to constitutionalism, freedom, and public integrity."

"By all early indications, the Trump presidency will corrode public integrity and the rule of law--and also do untold damage to American global leadership, the Western alliance, and democratic norms around the world. The damage has already begun, and it will not be soon or easily undone. Yet exactly how much damage is allowed to be done is an open question--the most important near-term question in American politics. It is also an intensely personal one, for its answer will be determined by the answer to another question: What will you do? And you? And you?"

Friday, February 10, 2017

Friday Trump & Politics Roundup - 9

Donald TrumpThis 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.

I'm slightly expanding the content of this series to include actions by other political figures, not just Trump.


Vox - How to stop an autocracy: The danger isn't that Trump will build an autocracy. It's that congressional Republicans will let him.

"Trump has shown himself unconcerned with the norms of American democracy. He routinely proclaims elections rigged, facts false, the media crooked, and his opponents corrupt. During the campaign, he flouted basic traditions of transparency and threatened to jail his opponent. His tendencies toward nepotism, crony capitalism, and vengeance unnerve. His oft-stated admiration for authoritarians in other countries -- including, but not limited to, Vladimir Putin -- speaks to his yearning for power. / Amid all that, David Frum's Atlantic cover story, "How to Build an Autocracy," is a chilling read. "We are living through the most dangerous challenge to the free government of the United States that anyone alive has encountered," he writes. The argument works because its component parts are so plausible. Frum does not imagine a coup or a crisis. He does not lean on the deus ex machina of a terrorist attack or a failed assassination attempt. The picture he paints is not one in which everything is different, but one in which everything is the same. / He imagines a Trumpian autocracy built upon the most ordinary of foundations: a growing economy, a cynical public, a cowed media, a self-interested business community, and a compliant Republican Party. The picture resonates because it combines two forces many sense at work -- Trump's will to power and the fecklessness of the institutions meant to stop him -- into one future everyone fears: autocracy in America." ... "Donald Trump is a paper tiger. But the US Congress is a tiger that we pretend is made of paper. It is, at this point, taken for granted that congressional Republicans will protect their co-partisan at any cost. It is, at this point, expected that they will confirm Trump's unqualified nominees, ignore his obvious conflicts of interest, overlook his dangerous comments, and rationalize his worst behavior. / That expectation -- and the cowardice it permits -- is the real danger to American democracy."


N.Y. Times - Supreme Court Nominee Calls Trump's Attacks on Judiciary 'Demoralizing'

"Mr. Trump escalated his public feud with the courts over his immigration order, saying that he had found a federal appeals court hearing on his executive order Tuesday night 'disgraceful,' and that the judges had failed to grasp concepts even 'a bad high school student would understand.' / The comments were a remarkable show of disdain by a sitting president for an independent judiciary..." ... "Mr. Trump's invective toward judges is a jarring break from a tradition observed by presidents of both parties. Presidents have usually tried to refrain from even appearing to intervene in court cases that concern them or their policies, or from impugning the jurists charged with deciding them, according to judges and legal experts from across the political spectrum." ... " 'It's not illegal, it's not a violation of the law to do these things, but it's bad policy because it raises questions about the independence of the courts, and it raises questions about the judicial system as a whole when the president says this,' said Peter Wallison, who served as White House counsel to President Ronald Reagan."


Vox - It sure looks like Kellyanne Conway just broke federal ethics rules

"The Nordstrom saga has now crossed the line from a somewhat vague conflict of interest (Trump seemed like he was defending his daughter, but his company, the Trump Organization, also owns the Ivanka Trump brand) to a seemingly more clear-cut violation of federal ethics rules. / Federal employees in the executive branch, including Conway, aren't allowed to 'endorse any product, service or enterprise.' / The rules are strict, and even cover things like writing book blurbs for authors the federal employees admire. (Not allowed.) When The Revenant, a novel written by Michael Punke, Obama's ambassador to the World Trade Organization, was made into an Oscar-nominated movie, Punke couldn't even talk about the film because to do so might violate federal conflict of interest rules."


Vox - Betsy DeVos can change education in America without doing a thing

"Education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos narrowly squeaked through the Senate on Monday, winning confirmation by a vote of 51 to 50 after Vice President Mike Pence weighed in to break the tie. / DeVos is the most controversial education secretary ever. She was confirmed with fewer votes than any Cabinet secretary in history. If Democrats hadn't abolished the filibuster on executive branch nominees in 2013, DeVos's opposition would have relegated her to the heap of Cabinet might-have-beens." ... "DeVos was not the candidate Trump would have picked if bipartisan consensus were a goal. She has no experience running a public school system or state university or shaping statewide education policy. Her signature issue, school vouchers, isn't particularly popular, and even some conservatives from rural states are skeptical of it because rural areas typically have few choices besides the local public school. She was guaranteed well-funded, well-organized opposition from teachers unions, who see vouchers as siphoning money away from public schools and into private hands. "


Vox - A congressman challenged CNN to name more than 2 white terrorist attacks. It's not that hard.

"The argument that this was a one-off incident is just false. These attacks have popped up time and time again throughout the West. It's not just the Quebec mosque attack that occurred last month or the 2015 Charleston mass shooting at a black church. They have occurred so frequently that Ben Mathis-Lilley managed to compile a list of 32 fatal white extremist attacks since Timothy McVeigh carried out the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, including attacks by Ku Klux Klan leader Frazier Glenn Miller in 2014, neo-Nazi Keith Luke in 2009, and white supremacist James von Brunn in 2009. (And it doesn't even include attacks outside the US, like the 2011 Norway attacks by far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik.)

And the statistics, in fact, show that right-wing extremist attacks, often carried out by white supremacists and nationalists, have typically killed more Americans in most years than Muslim jihadist terrorist attacks since 9/11."

Terrorism Deaths in USA since 9/11


VOA News - Analysts Weigh In on Trump's Call to Repeal Johnson Amendment

" 'The theory of tax exemption for a broad range of organizations in the U.S. is that they have a public function, that they serve the good of the community at large,' said Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington, D.C.-based religious liberty watchdog group. 'And religious institutions have been included within that range of good, non-governmental agencies that are deserving of a tax exemption.' / Many of these groups rely heavily on donations from private individuals and foundations. Being designated 'tax-exempt' by the IRS lends them legitimacy, increasing the confidence of would-be donors, who are allowed to deduct contributions to tax-exempt groups from their annual tax returns." ... "As the law stands now, individuals may not deduct from their tax returns any donations to politicians or political campaign groups. If the Johnson Amendment were repealed, though, it would open a new loophole in the law, encouraging individuals to make political contributions through religious groups and realizing tax benefits for doing so. / And that brings up another issue, says Lynn, financial transparency. Churches, he explains, are the only tax-exempt nonprofits that are not required to disclose their finances to the IRS, the public or even their donors. / 'So if the Johnson Amendment goes, I would argue that dark, hidden money will come into the political system through the churches,' Lynn said. 'They'd become, essentially, money-laundering operations and would never have to disclose the sources or amounts.' "

Related: Washington Post - The potential effects of repealing the Johnson Amendment


Nature - Trump immigration ban upends international work on disease

"Diseases don't respect borders, laws or walls. And efforts to combat them rely on networks of scientists to detect outbreaks early, understand how the diseases operate and then intervene. Researchers say that President Donald Trump's travel ban challenges that process, putting the United States at risk." ... "Public health is just one beneficiary of cross-border partnerships. Some policy analysts say scientific collaboration improves national security. If countries can respond to crises ranging from Ebola outbreaks to nuclear spills on their own, Americans are at less risk, says Hotez. Apolitical science partnerships make for good diplomacy, he adds."

Friday, February 3, 2017

Friday Trump Roundup - 8

Donald TrumpThis 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.


Slate - The Commander Stumbles: Trump's first executive orders will make it harder to vanquish ISIS.

"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."

Related: Scientific American Guest Blog - Why the Trump Immigration Ban Is Bad for the U.S. and Bad for the World


Scientific American Blogs - Is Trump Driving Recruits to ISIS?

"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."


Nature - Trump agenda threatens US legacy of science diplomacy

"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."


Engadget - Who is Jerry Falwell Jr. and why is he reforming higher education?

"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."


The Atlantic - A Clarifying Moment in American History

"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."


Washington Post - No 'G'day, mate': On call with Australian prime minister, Trump badgers and brags

"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.' "


Reuters - Exclusive: Trump to focus counter-extremism program solely on Islam - sources

"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."


Yahoo News - CIA head was 'blindsided' by waterboarding memo

"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

Friday, January 27, 2017

Friday Trump Roundup - 7

Donald TrumpThis 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.

I've said that this will only be a semi-regular series, and that I wasn't going to post every week, but even though I just posted last Friday, Trump has been busy his first week in office, so there's been a lot to call attention to. I hope this will settle down in a little while (i.e. that Trump quits doing so many bad things), but for now, there's just too much to say. Here are today's links:


Foreign Policy Journal - Trump Promises 'America First' in Defiant and Divisive Inaugural Speech: Anxious allies and a polarized country may find little solace in the new president's isolationist speech.

"Under dark skies and drizzling rain, Donald Trump vowed after being sworn in as the 45th president of the United States on Friday to make a radical break with decades of U.S. policy, pledging to dump free trade, block immigration, and focus above all on 'America first.' " ... "Trump signaled no retreat from his populist agenda on trade, immigration, and on scaling back commitments overseas. Apart from a passing mention of retaining old alliances, he painted a picture of a hostile world that would no longer be permitted to take advantage of America. Unlike other presidents in the modern era, he offered no pledge to preserve America's global leadership in promoting peace, protecting human rights, or encouraging democracy and open markets." ... "With Trump's antipathy to free trade, his skepticism of traditional alliances, and his affinity for Putin, many around the world began looking to German Chancellor Angela Merkel to defend the post-World War II liberal order -- a role typically played by an American president."


NPR - President Trump's Inaugural Address, Annotated

I'm not actually going to include excerpts from this article, because there are just way too many. NPR writers added annotation throughout the transcript fact checking Trump and putting his claims in perspective. Needless to say, he made many, many untrue statements during his inaugurual address.


CBS News - Sources say Trump's CIA visit made relations with intel community worse

"U.S. government sources tell CBS News that there is a sense of unease in the intelligence community after President Trump's visit to CIA headquarters on Saturday. An official said the visit 'made relations with the intelligence community worse' and described the visit as 'uncomfortable.' / Authorities are also pushing back against the perception that the CIA workforce was cheering for the president. They say the first three rows in front of the president were largely made up of supporters of Mr. Trump's campaign. / An official with knowledge of the make-up of the crowd says that there were about 40 people who'd been invited by the Trump, Mike Pence and Rep. Mike Pompeo teams. The Trump team originally expected Rep. Pompeo, R-Kansas, to be sworn in during the event as the next CIA director, but the vote to confirm him was delayed on Friday by Senate Democrats. Also sitting in the first several rows in front of the president was the CIA's senior leadership, which was not cheering the remarks." ... "Intelligence sources say many in the workforce were stunned and at times offended by the president's tone which seemed to evolve into a version of speeches he'd used on the campaign trail."


The Guardian - 'Global gag rule' reinstated by Trump, curbing NGO abortion services abroad

"In one of a number of sharp reversals from the Obama era, Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order banning international NGOs from providing abortion services or offering information about abortions if they receive US funding. / The rule will put thousands of international healthcare workers in the difficult position of deciding whether to continue to offer family planning care that includes abortion at the expense of a critical funding stream. Many international health advocates insist that their efforts are not comprehensive without abortion services. Unsafe abortions are a major cause of maternal mortality and kill tens of thousands of women every year." ... " 'President Trump's reinstatement of the global gag rule ignores decades of research, instead favoring ideological politics over women and families,' said Shaheen, who serves on the foreign relations committee. / 'We know that when family planning services and contraceptives are easily accessible, there are fewer unplanned pregnancies, maternal deaths and abortions. And when women have control over their reproductive health, it improves the long-term health of mothers and children and creates a lasting economic benefit.' "


The Guardian Op-ed - This photo sums up Trump's assault on women's rights

"The stupidity of the blinkered, religiously motivated agenda on display here is that no matter what legislation these men implement, they will never succeed in banning abortion, per se, only safe, legal abortion. Marie Stopes estimates that, as a result of the reimposition of the global gag order, the loss of their services alone could result in 6.5m unintended pregnancies during Trump's first term, 2.1m unsafe abortions, and 21,700 maternal deaths. In passing this law, these patriarchs have fathered millions of unwanted children, helping to create lives that could very well turn out to be painful and potentially motherless."


Marie Stopes Int'l - Re-enactment of the Mexico City Policy

"Tragically, the policy will have the exact opposite effect to the one that is intended. By blocking funding to the world's largest NGO providers of modern contraception, it will reduce women's ability to prevent unplanned pregnancy. A 2011 study found that abortion rates in sub-Saharan African countries actually increased while the Mexico City Policy was in force under President Bush. The impact of its re-enactment today will be no less devastating, seriously reducing the impact of US development assistance for family planning in some of the world's poorest countries."


IFL Science - All These Federal Science Programs Will Be Cut Under Trump

"Among the programs being listed for complete elimination, it's perhaps the inclusion of those that aim to prevent violence against women that stands out as being particularly tragic. / However, being a science site, we thought we'd have a look to see if any scientific programs are also being annihilated. Sadly, there are quite a few, especially those relating to - surprise surprise - climate change research. / Two of the top State Department programs focused on climate change mitigation are set to be banished forever more. ... Funding for the Paris agreement, along with donations to the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - the organization that publishes the most authoritative reports on anthropogenic climate change - are also primed for destruction. At the Energy Department, ... entire research groups are set to be killed off. Particularly noteworthy victims are the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and the Office of Fossil Energy, both of which are currently developing methods to cut down America's sizable carbon footprint. / Despite being a world leader in nuclear physics research, the Department of Energy will find its funding for this field rolled back to 2008 levels. / Even the Department of Justice is set to be assaulted with anti-intellectual cuts. Its Environmental and Natural Resources divisions - which, for example, work to prosecute those that break civil and criminal anti-pollution laws - are going to suffer some rather severe funding reductions."


Wired - Rogue Scientists Race to Save Climate Data from Trump

"At 10 AM the Saturday before inauguration day, on the sixth floor of the Van Pelt Library at the University of Pennsylvania, roughly 60 hackers, scientists, archivists, and librarians were hunched over laptops, drawing flow charts on whiteboards, and shouting opinions on computer scripts across the room. They had hundreds of government web pages and data sets to get through before the end of the day--all strategically chosen from the pages of the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration--any of which, they felt, might be deleted, altered, or removed from the public domain by the incoming Trump administration. / Their undertaking, at the time, was purely speculative..." ... "But three days later, speculation became reality as news broke that the incoming Trump administration's EPA transition team does indeed intend to remove some climate data from the agency's website."

Related: Scientists Scramble to Save Climate Data Before Trump Can Delete It (at the University of Toronoto)
Related: Scientists Race To Preserve Climate Change Data Before Trump Takes Office (Another independent effort)


The Verge - Trump's new FCC chief is Ajit Pai, and he wants to destroy net neutrality

"Donald Trump has elevated Ajit Pai to chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, giving control over the agency to a reliable conservative who's been opposed to pretty much every big action the commission has taken in recent years, from establishing net neutrality to protecting consumer privacy to restricting major cable mergers." ... " 'Some of the things we've seen in his record are certainly problematic for consumers and for competition,' Chris Lewis, vice president of the communications advocacy nonprofit Public Knowledge, tells The Verge. 'Whether it's his opposition to open internet rules, or opposition to basic privacy online, or opposition to the effort to extend the Lifeline program subsidies to broadband so that low income Americans have access to basic 21st century communications.' "


Industrial Equipment News - Trump's Trade Plan Put Into Action

"With his rejection of an Asian trade pact, U.S. President Donald Trump has tackled the first in a promised series of far-reaching policy changes that could inadvertently give China room to assert itself as a regional leader and worsen strains over the South China Sea and Taiwan. / The U.S. departure from the Trans-Pacific Partnership could help President Xi Jinping's effort to cast Beijing as a champion of free trade and might increase official interest in a Chinese-led alternative trade deal. The TPP, which excluded China, has been seen as a gambit by Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, to counter Beijing's influence."


Politico - How Trump's wall could beckon a global trade war

"President Donald Trump's plans to pay for a Mexican border wall could trigger the global trade war he has long threatened. / A House Republican plan he embraced Thursday as a means of paying for the barrier would slap imported goods with a 20 percent tax -- a levy aimed at boosting consumption of domestic products that could backfire by angering allies and upending the entire global trading system. / Longtime trading partners -- not just Mexico -- could retaliate, making American consumers pay more for everything from food to electronics and putting U.S. companies out of business. The so-called border adjustment tax could trigger cases before the World Trade Organization, spur other countries to slap levies on American products and put some U.S. companies at a disadvantage with international competitors."


NPR - Mexican President Cancels Meeting With Trump As Tensions Rise Between Countries

"Well, it's really hard to overstate this turn of events. This is Mexico the U.S. is feuding with. This is one of its largest trading partners. Five hundred billion dollars of trade a year and millions of jobs in the U.S. depend on that commerce with Mexico. Let alone, it's its neighbor and its partner in security and law enforcement and immigration. I talked to one historian who was comparing this low point in the relationship to back to Calvin Coolidge days, when he was president in the '20s...Or even back to the U.S.-Mexican War of the 1840s."


The Guardian - Even rightwing sites call out Trump administration over 'alternative facts'

"In their false claims about the size of the crowd at the inauguration on Friday, and in the introduction to common parlance of the term "alternative facts", senior aides to Donald Trump managed to achieve the unthinkable: getting rightwing news sites to disagree with the president." ... "Trump used a speech in front of the memorial wall at CIA headquarters in Virginia on Saturday to accuse the media of lying about his crowd numbers. Later, his press secretary, Sean Spicer, repeated the claims at a rancorous press briefing. Senior aide Kellyanne Conway claimed on Sunday that the pair had presented 'alternative facts'." ... "On Thursday, the founder of Gateway Pundit, Jim Hoft, reportedly claimed the site had been granted a White House press credential. / Given the site's track record, a White House press credential for Gateway Pundit would set a dangerous precedent. It has published reports speculating that Obama is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and falsely claimed that anti-Trump protests have been funded by George Soros."


Media Matters - New York Times: Trump Ally Roger Stone Under Investigation For Possible Russia Ties
(Using Media Matters because I've already used up my monthly allotment of free New York Times articles. Also note this is only an investigation at this stage, and may not turn up anything. For now, it's a story to keep an eye on. Anyway, quoting their excerpt of the Times article:)

"American law enforcement and intelligence agencies are examining intercepted communications and financial transactions as part of a broad investigation into possible links between Russian officials and associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, current and former senior American officials said. / The continuing counterintelligence investigation means that Mr. Trump will take the oath of office on Friday with his associates under investigation and after the intelligence agencies concluded that the Russian government had worked to help elect him. As president, Mr. Trump will oversee those agencies and have the authority to redirect or stop at least some of these efforts." ... "In August, The Times reported that Mr. Manafort's name had surfaced in a secret ledger that showed he had been paid millions in undisclosed cash payments. / The Associated Press has reported that his work for Ukraine included a secret lobbying effort in Washington aimed at influencing American news organizations and government officials."


Business Insider - CBO: The GOP's Obamacare repeal could leave 27 million people without health insurance and cause premiums to skyrocket

[Just to emphasize - this CBO report assumes no replacement for the ACA, only showing the effects if Republicans don't come up with a replacement quickly after repeal.]
"The Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan office within the legislature that provides research on the impact of possible policies, said in a report released Tuesday that a partial repeal of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, would have huge effects on the US healthcare system." ... "...congressional Republicans and President-elect Donald Trump have promised to quickly create a replacement for the healthcare law, and these projections do not take into account the possible effects of such a bill." ... " 'The number of people who are uninsured would increase by 18 million in the first new plan year following enactment of the bill,' the report said. 'Later, after the elimination of the ACA's expansion of Medicaid eligibility and of subsidies for insurance purchased through the ACA marketplaces, that number would increase to 27 million, and then to 32 million in 2026.' " ... "In addition to the effects on insurance coverage from a repeal, the CBO report estimates that premiums would be 20-25% more than they would be if the ACA were kept in place over the next year; if the ACA were fully repealed, premiums would increase by 50%."

Related: Reuters - Health insurers quietly shape Obamacare replacement with fewer risks


Reuters - Trump administration tells EPA to cut climate page from website: sources

[Note: for now, at least, this plan has been put on hold, as revealed by E&E News - Staff told to 'stand down' on axing climate page. However, given Trump's views and his cabinet picks, this is something to watch very closely.]
"U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to remove the climate change page from its website, two agency employees told Reuters, the latest move by the newly minted leadership to erase ex-President Barack Obama's climate change initiatives. / The employees were notified by EPA officials on Tuesday that the administration had instructed EPA's communications team to remove the website's climate change page, which contains links to scientific global warming research, as well as detailed data on emissions. The page could go down as early as Wednesday, the sources said."

Friday, January 20, 2017

Friday Trump Roundup - 6

Donald TrumpThis 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 isn't a particularly long roundup this week, but I figured I'd post it in 'honor' of the inauguration. Here are today's links:


Slate - Stop Underestimating Donald Trump

"At every turn, pundits and political scientists underestimated Donald Trump. When he announced he was running to be president of the United States, they laughed. When he led the polls for the GOP nomination, they predicted his popularity would be short-lived. When he became the Republican nominee, they celebrated. Against a Rubio or even a Christie, Clinton might have lost. But against Trump? / We've underestimated Trump over and over and over again. And over and over and over again, we've all paid a heavy price. And yet, many of the same pundits and political scientists who confidently predicted that Trump would never be president are now confidently predicting that his presidency will soon be tanked by incompetence and unpopularity." ... "That Trump isn't sure to fail does not mean that he's certain to succeed. It's perfectly possible that he'll crash and burn. But to figure out how to beat Trump, we must start by taking him--and the danger he poses--seriously."


MIT Technology Review - Climate Data Preservation Efforts Mount as Trump Takes Office

"Friday's hackathon follows a series of grassroots data preservation efforts in recent weeks, amid increasing concerns the new administration is filling agencies with climate deniers likely eager to cut off access to scientific data that undermine their policy views. Those worries only grew earlier this week, when Inside EPA reported that the Environmental Protection Agency transition team plans to scrub climate data from the agency's website, citing a source familiar with the team. [emphasis mine]" ... "To be clear, the Trump camp hasn't publicly declared plans to erase or eliminate access to the databases. But there is certainly precedent for state and federal governments editing, removing, or downplaying scientific information that doesn't conform to their political views." ... "an extensive Congressional investigation concluded in a 2007 report that the Bush Administration 'engaged in a systematic effort to manipulate climate change science and mislead policymakers and the public about the dangers of global warming.' "


Industrial Equipment News - Trump's CEO Meetings Raise Ethics Questions

"President-elect Donald Trump's meetings with CEOs seeking federal approval for major mergers are raising red flags for ethics lawyers concerned about the possible erosion of a firewall between the incoming White House and regulators reviewing those billion-dollar deals." ... "Presidents typically keep their distance from such reviews, so as not to appear to be exerting political influence on a regulatory process intended to evaluate the impact a merger could have on competition and consumers. Trump's private sessions suggest he may be less worried with appearing to be close to pending deals that require government approval."


Industrial Equipment News - Trump's Mexico Strategy a 'Dagger at Ohio'

"President-elect Donald Trump's threats to firms using Mexico as a manufacturing base will be counterproductive and could eventually cost thousands of American jobs, Lawrence Summers, the former U.S. Treasury Secretary, warned Wednesday." ... " 'That decline in the peso is a dagger at Ohio; it is a major change in the relative attractiveness of locating production activity in Mexico versus locating it in the American heartland,' Summers told a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. / 'And the consequence of that is measured not in the dozens or hundreds but in the thousands, or ten thousands or even hundreds of thousands of jobs.' / The lesson of history, he added, is that 'classic populism is invariably counterproductive for those in whose name it is offered as a policy regime.' "


Slate - Is Donald Trump a Fascist?

[Written during the primaries, but still relevant.]
"There are certainly some echoes of fascism, but there are also very profound differences." ... "First of all, there are the kinds of themes Trump uses. The use of ethnic stereotypes and exploitation of fear of foreigners is directly out of a fascist's recipe book. 'Making the country great again' sounds exactly like the fascist movements. Concern about national decline, that was one of the most prominent emotional states evoked in fascist discourse, and Trump is using that full-blast, quite illegitimately, because the country isn't in serious decline, but he's able to persuade them that it is. That is a fascist stroke. An aggressive foreign policy to arrest the supposed decline. That's another one. Then, there's a second level, which is a level of style and technique. He even looks like Mussolini in the way he sticks his lower jaw out, and also the bluster, the skill at sensing the mood of the crowd, the skillful use of media." ... "And the capacity of Trump to enlist working-class voters against the left is exactly what Hitler and Mussolini were able to do. There are definitely echoes."

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