Donald Trump

Trump's foreign "policy" is both clumsy and dangerous

The Tweeter-In-Chief needs a time-out in the corner:

Trump’s public appearances with Merkel betrayed an awkwardness between the two leaders, including during two widely remarked upon appearances in the White House. In one, the leaders failed to stage a handshake for cameras in the Oval Office, and in another Merkel looked baffled by comments made by Trump during a joint press conference. Before the visit Trump had repeatedly called Merkel’s policies “insane” and a “disaster” for Germany.

Trump’s second tweet accused Germany directly of not paying enough to the security alliance. In a joint press conference on Friday, Trump expressed “strong support” for Nato but reiterated his belief that member nations do not contribute a “fair share”. “Many nations owe vast sums of money from past years and it is very unfair to the United States,” he said. “These nations must pay what they owe.”

Welp, this is apparently what a whole lot of Americans wanted, a "leader" who speaks his mind, even if what he says has little roots in the truth and will very likely drag us into multiple military conflicts before his next State of the Union address. What Trump doesn't understand could fill a supertanker, but one of those things is this: The effectiveness of NATO as a deterrent has always been the unflinching support of the United States for its treaty partners. If that support is called into question, especially by the US President, the deterrent itself evaporates:

Diagnosing Trump: Mental health professionals are speaking out

And it's not looking good for the Liar in Chief:

These behaviors include but are not limited to: condescension, gross exaggeration (lying), bullying, jealousy, fragile self-esteem, lack of compassion, and viewing the world as Us versus Them. Having observed the school-yard bully tactics Trump employed during a series of public debates as well as his boasting presentation during interviews, we felt it would be important to raise awareness about some of his behaviors.

So in January 2016, we published Bullies: An Exploration Into Different Types of Bullies. Note: Our intention was to use a picture of Trump to make our point but were dissuaded due to the possibility of offending some of our Psychology Today readers, who are also his supporters, and so opted for a generic-looking meanie as our bully poster boy.

If you could have offended enough of those readers back in early 2016 with the truth of his personality disorder, we might not be in the situation we're in. But better late than never:

Thanks to Trump, we're back to dumping coal waste into streams

MB at Dailykos has the roundup of idiotic Trumpiness:

The regulation he boasted about stopping is the Stream Protection Rule drawn up by the Office of Surface Mining. He signed a bill on Feb. 16 eliminating it, noting that getting rid of this rule that was approved in December would save thousands of mining jobs. The rule was meant to keep coal-mining waste out of streams, but it was considerably watered down thanks to industry lobbying. The rule did not ban mountain top removal that is used to get at coal seams, with the overburden of soil and rock dumped in stream valleys.

Even though the rule was far weaker than it needed to be, now instead of making companies stop dumping their coal waste in those valleys, the consequences will continue to fall as it has for more than a century on the people who live where the companies befoul the water and land with their leavings.

Something a lot of folks fail to comprehend when this subject comes up: Mountain streams make up the headwaters of rivers that run for hundreds of miles, through countless small towns and even larger cities, and these rivers cross state lines on their way to the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico here on the Eastern half of the US. As far as surface pollution goes, nothing else competes with the sheer distance and volume of water polluted. And thanks to proposed budget cuts to the EPA, tracking that pollution is now going to be much more difficult:

Trump uses "states' rights" excuse in attack on transgender students

Abdicating the Federal government's responsibility for basic civil rights:

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday that the Trump administration will issue new guidance on Title IX protections for transgender students. The comments came in response to a question during a White House press briefing about reports the White House would rescind the Obama administration's guidance that sought to bar discrimination against transgender students and ensure they had access to bathrooms of their choice.

Fascism Watch: Rounding up the immigrants

Leaving devastated families in their wake:

A U.S. immigration official says agents arrested fewer than 200 people last week in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia and targeted people in the country illegally and convicted of crimes.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement regional spokesman Bryan Cox said Saturday that the agency's enforcement activities die down over the weekend, but couldn't say none were being carried out.

"Fewer than 200" is surprisingly similar to the rationalizations used for the recent Muslim ban enforcement actions. Actually, it's not surprising at all. That's what brutal tyrants do, they try to play down the numbers of people persecuted by various "programs" instituted to solve problems that don't exist, problems that were created to instill fear and anger in the populace, so the knight in shining armor can ride in and save them. Make no mistake, what we're seeing isn't some new behavior, it's incredibly ancient in origins. And it almost always works, leaving the citizens entrenched in a totalitarian state before the bulk of them realize it's happened.

Josh Stein joins lawsuit opposing Trump's Muslim ban

Because fighting injustice is part of the job:

“President Trump’s executive order undermines the core American value of religious tolerance, and it makes us less safe,” Stein said in a statement released Monday. “It signals to the world that America sees all Muslims as terrorists, strengthening ISIS’s propaganda and efforts to recruit terrorists.

“Not only is Trump doing immeasurable damage to our country’s standing, he’s doing it in a way that is unconstitutional. That is why I will join my colleagues in taking action.”

What he said.

NC's Hall of Shame: Wealthy Trump donors

An oligarchy of hypocrisy:

President Donald Trump may have had a tumultuous first two weeks, but that doesn’t bother Louis DeJoy. “He’s doing great,” said the Greensboro investor. “So far he’s doing what he said he was going to do.” DeJoy was one of Trump’s biggest N.C. donors and fundraisers. Records show he gave $111,000 to the Trump Victory Fund, a joint committee that split money between the campaign and party groups. He gave the Republican National Committee another $273,000 to help elect Trump.

DeJoy wasn’t the president’s only top N.C. contributor. Fred Eshelman, a former pharmaceutical executive from Wilmington, gave Trump Victory $200,000. Doug Lebda, CEO of Charlotte-based Lending Tree, gave $102,615 to the Great America PAC, which spent millions on Trump’s behalf. David Schamens of Davie County, CEO of TradeStream Analytics, gave Trump Victory $42,000 and, according to an FEC report, a net $157,000 to America Comes First PAC.

I hardly need to say it, but I'm going to say it: If you do business with any of these idiotas, please stop. Disassociate, divest, deprive them of your commerce, deny them access to your inner circle, and direct your investments and support to their rivals. Promoting Fascism should never (again) be a profitable enterprise, so exercise your option as an enlightened Capitalist and make these social parasites regret dashing off those checks. As for the smaller donors:

USDA under Trump scrubs animal welfare information from website

If you want to know, you'll have to file a FOIA:

It just became nearly impossible to know what's happening to animals in zoos, puppy mills and research laboratories.

Information about the roughly 9,000 facilities related to animals protected under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) — including SeaWorld, dog breeders and puppy mills, zoos, circuses (including Ringling Bros.) and taxpayer-funded animal testing labs, among others — was removed from the USDA website on Friday.

I've been blogging here for going on ten years, and very often my search for reliable and up-to-date information leads me to one or more of the Federal agencies. More than just informative, their websites serve as a repository for related research, much of it done by institutions outside of government. But it appears that goldmine of information may be about to play out, as Trump's tiny hands dig deeper into the soil of these departments. This need to control information flow is frightening, and (again) closely resembles actions taken by tyrants in the not-free world. Pay attention, or there may be nothing left to pay attention to.

Before the cock crows: Senate holds DeVos vote at 6:30 a.m.

Pre-coffee decisions are not wise:

The Senate voted early Friday to advance President Donald Trump's education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos to a final confirmation vote, which is expected Monday. The vote was 52 to 48 along party lines.

Senators convened at the unusual, early hour -- 6:30 a.m. ET -- because of Democratic stalling tactics that reflect their unhappiness with Trump's cabinet picks and the overall confirmation process.

Of course Burr and Tillis voted for her, and they will do so again on Monday. And although two other Republican Senators have promised to oppose her, Pence will merely slide in and cast the tie-breaking vote. Classic bait-and-switch, and you have to wonder if this is merely a distraction. A distraction that could be concealing the preparations for war:

Bad writing, bad reading, lead to confusion over Trump's NSC order

The latest outrage appears to be (at least partially) incorrect:

President Donald Trump is reshuffling the US National Security Council (NSC), downgrading the military chiefs of staff and giving a regular seat to his chief strategist Steve Bannon. Mr Bannon, formerly the head of the populist right-wing, Breitbart News website, will join high-level discussions about national security. The order was signed on Saturday.

The director of national intelligence and the joint chiefs will attend when discussions pertain to their areas. Under previous administrations, the director and joint chiefs attended all meetings of the NSC's inner circle, the principals' committee.

Before I proceed, I want to take a moment to reiterate the need for folks to take the time to find and examine primary sources. In this case, the primary source is the Presidential Memorandum itself. Accuracy is (of course) the main reason for doing this, but another big reason has to do with focus. When you take someone else's analysis as your only source, you may be missing other details that person didn't judge to be relevant or news-worthy. Anyway, back to the confusing memo:

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