December 15, 2017

The Trump Trainwreck: The president’s first weeks in office

It was my hope Donald Trump would take the highest office in the land seriously and try to be a president for all Americans. Unfortunately, Trump has not backed away from his controversial policies, nor has he stopped personal attacks on his opponents.

Trump has shown authoritarian impulses and a disdain for free press. He has signed many executive orders, including a partial immigration ban blocked by a federal judge. Trump attacked the ruling on Twitter, which drew criticism from his Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.

The selection of Gorsuch for the Supreme Court has also been divisive, considering Mitch McConnell’s refusal to even hear Barack Obama’s nominee last year. More troubling, Gorsuch is a hardcore religious conservative in the vein of late Justice Antonin Scalia.

The confirmation of Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General is deeply unsettling. The Washington Post reported Sessions was deemed too racist to be a federal judge over 30 years ago. Sessions said “good people don’t smoke marijuana” on the Senate floor last year, and he wants to enforce federal law in states that have legalized marijuana.

Not only is Sessions a drug war dinosaur hostile to civil rights, he is an enemy to liberty. His Senate voting record includes votes for the Patriot Act, domestic spying, civil forfeiture, torture and hard line immigration policies. The prison industrial complex will thrive under Sessions.

Another disturbing trend in Trump’s White House is the blurring of lines between church and state. Vice President Mike Pence, Sessions, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson are policymakers who want to push their religious views on the country. DeVos herself came with no qualifications, and Trump even chose televangelist Jerry Falwell Jr. to lead a task force on higher education.

Approving the Keystone and Dakota pipelines was one of Trump’s first actions in the White House. Trump thinks climate change is a “Chinese hoax” and announced the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris Agreement. CNN reported he recently signed a bill allowing coal companies to dump their waste in waterways. EPA chief Scott Pruitt, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke are all hostile to the functions of the departments they represent.

Trump campaigned as a populist who would bring back jobs. To his credit, he has withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. However, the selections of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin signal big business will be the winner in Trump’s administration. In all, Trump appointed six Goldman Sachs alumni to his Cabinet.

At times, Trump has sounded reasonable on foreign policy. He campaigned on improving relations with Russia, and questioned one-sided alliances and wars of regime change. Trump was back and forth on this issue because he also called for carpet bombings, war crimes, nuclear attacks, torture and taking Iraq’s oil. He has already made threats to China, Iran and Mexico.

Trump has managed to tick off allies such as Australia, France and Germany since taking office. NBC News reported Trump hung up on the Australian Prime Minister. According to Fox News, Trump told the Mexican President he might need to send troops to Mexico to take care of “bad hombres.” Homeland Security estimated Trump’s asinine plan to build a wall on the Mexican border would cost over $20 billion, possibly more.

Several members of the Trump administration have advocated for military action against Iran, including Defense Secretary James Mattis and CIA chief Mike Pompeo. The Vietnam and Iraq Wars were both started on false intelligence, and the claims coming from the alternative facts administration on Iran have been almost completely false. One of my biggest concerns is Trump will instigate a war with Iran, perhaps to distract the public from his failing poll numbers.

Trump ordered the Pentagon to come up with a plan to defeat ISIS. Like his predecessors, Trump thinks he can defeat an idea militarily. He fails to realize bombing the hell out of the Middle East is one of the main recruitment tools for terrorism. Partnering with Saudi Arabia contradicts his plan, considering Wikileaks revealed the Saudis are the main sponsors of al Qaeda and ISIS.

The power of former Breitbart editor Steve Bannon is alarming. Critics have labeled Bannon as a white supremacist, which he denies. Not only is he Trump’s top advisor, he was also named to the National Security Council in an unprecedented move. On his radio show, Bannon has advocated for wars against China, Iran, and the whole religion of Islam.

Pushing alternative facts and lies has already created an image problem for Trump. Many of his policies are deeply unpopular, even among some of his supporters. Trump has numerous conflicts of interest with his business empire and nepotism in the executive branch. His divisive rhetoric and ego has not done him any favors either. It is going to be a long four years.

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