Articles and Editorials:
The major pieces of Trump news this week were:
- The immigration executive order and the Bowling Green Massacre;
- Church and State to become less separate;
- International relations getting colder;
- Trump moves to begin deregulating the big banks;
- Trump’s first counterterrorism raid;
Immigration Executive Order, “Bowling Green Massacre”
Over a week ago, toward the end of the day on a Friday, Donald Trump signed an executive order delaying entry to the US for individuals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The abrupt move caused chaos and heartache for many as relatives were turned away at airports nationwide, and large protests erupted spontaneously at several airports. Trump blamed the confusion on a computer error (Full Article – ABC News). When acting Attorney General Sally Yates, an Obama appointee, refused to enforce the ban, President Trump fired her (Full Article – MSNBC). Amid the confusion – even among airport security and customs – the New York Times and Politifact did their best to sort through what the executive order does and does not say (Full Article – New York Times) (Full Article – Politifact), and over 5 million people around the world signed a letter of protest to Donald Trump.
On Thursday, Trump Advisor Kellyanne Conway justified the executive order by offering up an “alternative fact” in an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews when she referred to the “Bowling Green Massacre,” a terrorist attack that never took place (Full Article – The Guardian). Conway instantly became the subject of ridicule on social media. This is the story to which Conway was inaccurately referring (Full Article – Heavy.com) (Full Article – Snopes.com).
On Friday, after appeals from the Attorneys General of Washington State and Minnesota, Federal Judge James Robart put a nationwide temporary hold on the executive order (Full Article – CNN).
“America is created by immigrants.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
(FullArticle – Washington Post)
Separation of Church and State
On Thursday, President Trump spoke at the annual National Prayer Breakfast. His speech was short on spirituality and long on schtick, including a suggestion to pray for Arnold Schwartzenegger to get better ratings as his successor on “The Apprentice” (Full Transcript – Time Magazine) (Full Video – C-SPAN).
The address also included some substance, such as proposing a rollback of the “Johnson Amendment,” which has required that churches and other religious institutions cannot retain their tax exempt status if they advocate for a political candidate from the pulpit (Full Article – New York Times).
In related news, Huffington Post acquired a draft executive order (i.e., not proposed or signed) on religious freedom. The order would prevent the government from forcing individuals or organizations to “violate their conscience,” a measure that could easily lead to institutional discrimination and a setback for LGBTQ rights (Full Article – Huffington Post).
America’s Place in the World
The President’s abrasive, blunt, confrontational approach to international relations may be sowing the seeds of global alienation for the United States.
Last week, Trump’s immigration executive order prompted over 1.8 million Brits to sign a petition asking that Trump not be invited to any official State Visits to England because “it would cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen” (Full Article – NPR – Note: the article says 1.3 million, but the petition actually has over 1.8 million signatures as of February 4).
On Wednesday, Trump spoke by phone with Mexican President Enrique Peña Niéto. Many news media reported that Trump threatened to invade the country (Full Article – Politicus USA). However, Trump stated later that his suggestion to send troops into Mexico to deal with their “bad hombres” was “lighthearted,” and Eduardo Sanchez, Mexican Presidential Spokesperson, stated that “It is absolutely false that the president of the United States threatened to send troops to Mexico” (Full Article – USA Today).
Trump also had a Wednesday phone call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Trump described the call as his “worst so far” (Full Article – BBC), and it was widely reported that he hung up on the Prime Minister (Full Article – Salon). However, the Australian Prime Minister, asked directly about it, stated that the “call ended courteously” (Full Article – BBC). Turnbull will be interviewed on CBS’s “60 Minutes” tonight (Full Article – news.com.au).
Also on Wednesday, in response to a ballistic missile test by Iran, the President tweeted (God, did I just write that phrase?!) that Iran was being “PUT ON NOTICE” (his emphasis) (Full Article – CNBC), asserting questionably that Iran had violated the nuclear deal (Full Article – NPR). Iran dismissed the threat as coming from “an inexperienced person” (Full Article – Washington Post). Trump later imposed minor sanctions against Iran, after which Iran carried out more missile tests (Full Article – Bloomberg).
Deregulating the Banks – Again
In the wake of the 2008 financial collapse, after billions of American taxpayer dollars had been extracted to bail out the big banks for their reckless and unethical behavior, Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Act to prevent future financial calamity (Full Article – USA Today). Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders asserted throughout his campaign that Dodd-Frank did not go far enough.
On Friday, President Trump passed an executive order to set the wheels in motion to dismantle Dodd-Frank (Full Article – Bloomberg) (Full Article – Forbes), believing that the big banks are currently overly restricted. Depending on how the process continues, the move could free up the banks to behave less responsibly to increase their profits, potentially leading to another financial collapse. The (possibly) good news is that part of Trump’s plan appears to include no bailout from taxpayers.
Trump’s First Counterterrorism Raid Went Horribly Wrong
President Trump ordered his first counterterrorism raid last week. Navy SEAL Team 6 was sent on a mission to attack an al-Qaeda stronghold in Yemen, but al-Qaeda forces seemed to be aware of their arrival in advance, possibly tipped off by loud, low-flying drones. One American officer, William Owens, was killed, as were numerous Yemeni women and children, and a $75 million American military aircraft had to be destroyed to prevent it from getting into terrorist hands (Full Article – New York Times). Asked about the mission, President Trump asserted that it was a success.
Other Stories That You Should Know About
False Story: Supreme Court Nominee Led Group “Fascism Forever”
This week, confirmation hearings began for Trump’s Supreme Court Justice pick, Neil Gorsuch (Full Article – New York Times). Many Democrats want to delay or deny confirmation in retaliation for Republicans’ refusal to confirm Obama’s centrist Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, presented in March 2016 – nearly a year before the end of Obama’s term as President.
On Thursday, tabloid “Daily Mail” published a false story that in high school, Gorsuch had led a group called “Fascism Forever” (Full Article – Daily Mail), a rumor which rapidly spread on social media. The story stemmed from a comment that Gorsuch made in his high school yearbook as “a tongue-in-cheek attempt to poke fun at liberal peers who teased him about his fierce conservatism.” (Full Article – Snopes)
Fact Checking of Statements Made By Trump Administration This Week
(Full Article – Minnesota Public Radio)
A Clarifying Moment in American History
(by Eliot Cohen, conservative scholar of international affairs)
(Full Article – The Atlantic)
Immigration Executive Order is a Headfake for Consolidation of Power
“If you’re still trying to convince yourself that a 21st century coup is not underway, please, please snap out of it.”
Unfriending Trump Supporters Isolates Us Online
(Full Article – Washington Post)
Alternative Facts from an Alternative Universe
Self-selecting our news sources, a reluctance to hear opposing ideas, and the choice by many of us to surround ourselves only with like-minded individuals has resulted in many Americans becoming oblivious to the beliefs of those with whom they disagree. This bubble helped create the world of “alternative facts” in which Donald Trump could become President.
To counter this, each week I will present a little of what Trump’s supporters are thinking. Their reality may be very different from yours. Please listen/read to the end, and consider what respectful questions you could ask to better understand and have a conversation, rather than seeking to prove them wrong as quickly as possible and shut them down. We can’t change minds if we can’t talk to each other.
Cartoons, Images & Videos
In case it was’t obvious, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and “The Onion” are totally on the same page (Full Article – US UnCut)
Satire from “The Position:”
Posted on Facebook by “Republican Jesus:”
(Full Article – Huffington Post)
Photo of exhibit in Holocaust Museum posted on Facebook by “Boing Boing:”
Cover of “Der Spiegel,” German news magazine (yeah, that’s right, the Germans think that we’re heading toward fascism):
Posted on Facebook by Occupy Democrats:
Photo on CNN “Two Children, Two Faiths, One Message” (Full Article – CNN)
“Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice.”
President Donald Trump
Reality Show Producer and Performer
(Speaking at “our little breakfast” at the White House to Honor Black History Month)
(Video – YouTube) (Full Transcript – Boston Globe)
“I think through a lot of the actions and statements that he’s going to make, I think the contributions of Frederick Douglass will become more and more.”
White House Press Secretary
(Clarifying Trump’s statement)
(Video – C-SPAN)
A message from Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton:
Events & Actions
Two major nationwide protests coming up:
- Monday, February 20, 2017: “Not My President’s Day Rallies” across the country – find your nearest rally here!
- Saturday, April 15, 2017: Trump Tax Day Marches across the country to let him know that it’s not just reporters who care about his undisclosed tax returns – find your nearest rally here!