Weekly News Roundup & Sobriety

Trump had an active and troubling first week as President. Here is a list of 60 things that happened this week, with citations so you can read more, organized by category.  Pay attention.

The Inauguration Itself

  • The Trump team reportedly requested tanks, missiles, and other military accoutrement at the inaugural parade in order to create a spectacle a la North Korea. The military declined.
  • Trump’s inauguration was the least viewed on television in 40 years.
  • Trump named his inauguration a National Day of Patriotic Devotion, apparently drawing inspiration from Chinese propaganda.
  • A cake photographed at one of the inauguration parties was a direct rip off of a cake at an Obama inauguration party. The bakery announced this was intentional, and all proceeds from their inaugural catering will be donated to the Human Rights Campaign as a slight against the Trump administration.
  • Trump gave an inauguration speech with deeply disturbing imagery, including the term “American Carnage,” that painted a bleak picture of the current state of the nation.
  • The bottom line was the policy “America First,” which harkens back to the pre-WW2 policy of appeasing Hitler. This is not the first time Trump has been known to draw inspiration from Hitler.

Trump’s First Days

  • Trump deems his third day in office his first, after defying convention and deciding to take his first two days off in order to participate in inauguration celebrations.
  • Reports of how Trump spends his time in the White House indicate his habits from the campaign trail have changed little: he still devotes hours a day to watching cable TV news
  • Trump is still using an unsecured Android phone as President, leaving his communications open to hacking and eavesdropping, and defying government policy in a way similar to the way Trump criticized Clinton for doing during her time as Secretary of State, but worse
  • Large portions of Trump’s staff are reportedly using private email servers for government business, which, while technically legal, is also what Clinton was so criticized by Republicans for doing, indicating an extreme double standard among Republican ranks: it’s treason if she did it and she should be in jail, but it’s ok if we do it.
  • Trump signed Executive Orders in support of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. Despite the questionable legality of the orders, which are being challenged, Trump claimed they would create many well paying American jobs. A state department report from 2014, however, notes that the Keystone XL pipeline will create a grand total of 35 (no, that’s not missing a digit) permanent positions.
  • Donald Trump tweets a threat to “send the feds into Chicago” after apparently hearing a segment on Bill O’Reilly’s show. Whether that meant martial law, national guard, or what is unclear.
  • The Administration indicated it wanted to eliminate all funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for The Humanities, which fund NPR and PBS, and support 350 local public television channels
  • The administration confirmed it would keep on James Comey as head of the FBI. Comey has repeatedly violated ethics rules, if not the Hatch Act outright, on behalf of the Trump campaign.
  • Trump met with 12 CEOs at the White House to discuss job creation and his America First policy, while saying his administration would cut corporate taxes, decrease regulation, but impose a border tax.
  • Trump signed a swathe of Executive Orders after criticizing the Obama administration for governing unilaterally through executive orders and going so far as to suggest that this action was unconstitutional.
  • The president signed an executive order ending the US-EU Data Shield Agreement, in a move aimed at exempting non-citizens or permanent residents from privacy laws.

Foreign Policy Turbulence

  • Trump Tweets indicate that the US should keep the oil of countries in which it conducts military interventions, which would be a major shift in the nature of our diplomatic relations that would make all relations with countries that don’t support war profiteering difficult. Iraqi officials are on edge.
  • Trump plans to soon sign an executive order re-authorizing torture by the CIA  and reinstating black site prisons. McCain and the Senate Armed Services Committee strongly disagreed.
  • The entire senior leadership of the State Department resigned in protest.
  • The White House then misspelled Theresa May’s name three times in an official schedule of her visit beginning today (Friday). Unsurprising given State Department leadership who might have caught the blunder quit yesterday.
  • The Administration began preparing an executive order aimed at dramatically reducing US funding to and involvement in the United Nations and other international organizations, calling for a 40% reduction in US funding to such groups, as Trump signals he sees little value in trying to maintain international peace. Another order will call for a moratorium on new multilateral treaties, as Trump wants to exclusively negotiate one-to-one.

Attacks on LGBT rights

  • Immediately after the inauguration, the refresh of whitehouse.gov removes all mention of LGBT policy, signaling that the Trump administration will take a negative view towards LGBT equality despite some indications from Trump that he would be an ally, enforcing his staff’s hardline anti-LGBT bias.
  • HIV AIDS prevention policy is also removed from whitehouse.gov
  • Trump pledges to sign “First Amendment Defense Act” if it comes to his desk, which would give blanket legalization nation-wide to any and all discrimination against LGBT people so long as the discriminator has a “sincerely held religious belief.” This includes discrimination in housing, employment, business, restaurants, healthcare, and more.
  • Trump administration removes apology to LGBT community issued by former Secretary of State John Kerry for history of discrimination against LGBT staff from the Department of State website.
  • Sean Spicer says he is unfamiliar with Obama-era order mandating equal protections and benefits for LGBT employees of federal contractors, cannot say whether or not the administration would keep it in place.
  • Kellyanne Conway wore a revolutionary-war inspired Gucci ensemble to Trump’s inauguration that caused a splash on the Internet. Jokes implied that this is what happens when you lose all of your gay friends. For the record, she never had any. If she did, they would have taught her about using conditioner and a hair straightener before appearing on national television over a decade ago.

Press Conferences & Public Outreach

  • Sean Spicer spends the first press conference of the Trump Presidency berating the press for accurately covering the size of the crowds at Trump’s inauguration, citing facts that have been proven false to support his argument (lying) and took no questions afterwards.
  • Kellyanne Conway describes the lies at Spicer’s conference as “Alternative Facts” on national television. Amazon sells out of copies of 1984. Ingsoc informed me these are unrelated.
  • Spicer’s second news conference details how Trump’s feelings are hurt from all the negative press coverage, and instead of addressing concerns the press has been raising, Spicer says the press should get in line with the Administration’s talking points and report what the Administration tells them to. Press declines.
  • The White House shut down its comments line, directing callers to use Facebook messenger. Whether to message Donald J Trump or the White House is unclear, as neither page accepts messages through the platform, meaning there is currently no way to contact the White House as a concerned citizen.
  • Six members of the press are facing felony charges for coverage of unrest during the inauguration in clearly trumped up charges.
  • Buzzfeed, an outlet Trump described as a “failing pile of garbage,” has hired a full-time reporter to cover Trump’s relationship with the press.
  • Steve Bannon said the “press should keep its mouth shut,” that the “media is the opposition party,” said the president was in a “running war with the media,” and that the press were “among the most dishonest people on earth,” again bringing Trump talking points closely in line with Hitler’s concept of the Luegenpresse.

Voter Fraud

  • Trump doubled down on his claim that millions of people voted illegally in the election, in an attempt to legitimize his victory in the electoral college while losing the popular vote by 3 million votes. This in fact undermines the legitimacy of his victory. Taking a new tac, news agencies demand that Trump begin an investigation into voter fraud if he does in fact have evidence of fraud. No evidence has been released because there is none, but Trump announced he would form an investigation. The independence of such an investigation, and what the scope of its findings and recommendations would be, is still unclear.
  • The White House announced that an investigation into voter fraud would only target states that had not voted for the President in the last election.
  • Meanwhile Steve Bannon, Ivanka Trump, Tiffany Trump, and other senior advisors are shown to be registered to vote in multiple states, a common situation as deregistering to vote in a state you’ve previously lived in or after you’ve died are both notoriously difficult to do, but points out the hypocrisy at the heart of the Trump organization. I mean administration. Or is there a difference?

Conflicts of Interest

  • Kellyanne Conway announced Trump would not release his tax returns, directly contravening campaign promises to do so once his “audit” was complete.
  • A team of former ethics advisors for Bush and Obama filed a lawsuit through a non-profit organization regarding Trump’s conflicts of interest, which Trump has thus far flat out refused to solve. Discovery in this case could lead to Trump’s tax returns, among other documents detailing his business entanglements and debts.
  • Trump Hotels is planning a massive US expansion, amid calls for Trump to divest from the chain.
  • The Trump Organization has begun lawyering up for expected conflict of interest legal battles.
  • Mar-a-lago, Trump’s Florida golf club he has indicated will be the “winter white house” doubled its initiation fees after the President made clear he will spend a lot of time there, a clear ethics violation.

Activity in the Congress & Repealing the Affordable Care Act

  • The House GOP quietly closed its investigation into the Flint Water Crisis. The people of Flint still do not have clean drinking water as lead pipes remain in place.
  • Congress changed rules for selling federal land to say that land can now be sold if it costs money to keep up and provides no provable value to the people (how do you prove the value of nature? Through science, which is also being cut), paving the way for the potential sale of 640 million acres of federal land or transferral to the states, where rules on maintaining public access are lighter.
  • The House passed a law under which any rules created by a federal agency must be approved by congress within 70 days of being instated, a move which promises to increase gridlock in Washington.
  • The GOP has still not offered a replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act.

Muzzling the Scientific Community

Building The Wall

Women’s Rights and the Women’s March on Washington

  • Trump began to take steps to limit access to reproductive healthcare for women through executive orders reinstating a prohibition on companies funded by US taxpayers from discussing abortions. He signed the order surrounded by men, not good optics for someone who claims to be good at PR, and inciting fury online.
  • Between three and five million people participated in the Women’s March in US cities and around the world, but in DC alone there were more marchers than attendees of the inauguration,
  • National marches are now being planned by a group of concerned Scientists and by national LGBT rights groups.
  • Trump reinstates the global gag rule, preventing any group receiving U.S. healthcare aid not only from performing abortions – even if the funding for them comes from another source – but also from mentioning abortion in any form such as referrals, counseling, or information

 

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