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In his June 23, 2017 column for New York magazine, Andrew Sullivan makes a compelling argument that Trump’s domestic and foreign policy agenda is driven by the need to undo whatever Obama did. Sullivan refrains from offering any reasons for the president’s spite, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it all dates back to the needling that #44 subjected yet-to-be #45 at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2011 (the same night, incidentally, that the Osama bin Laden raid took place). Witnesses report that the Well-Coiffed One sat stiffly throughout Obama’s hilarious monologue, which Ivanka would probably call “vicious” today.

Knowing what we now know about the notoriously thin-skinned, perpetually victimized narcissist who sits in the White House tweeting and watching TV news, it doesn’t sound at all far-fetched. Wonderful, isn’t it, to realize that withdrawing from the Paris Accord on climate change, betting the future on fossil fuels, shredding the safety net, rolling back civil rights protections, ripping families of American citizens apart by deporting one or both immigrant parents, insulting our NATO allies, cozying up to murderous dictators, gifting the 1% with enormous tax cuts, undermining prison, police, and Wall Street reform, gutting environmental, food and workplace safety protections, sabotaging public schools, and withdrawing critical support from world health programs, is because someone couldn’t take a joke.

That would be a joke in itself if the consequences weren’t so grave and it wasn’t the least bit funny.

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Does the White House have any mirrors? I’m beginning to wonder.

Last week, the “Plutocrat-in-Chief” called several respected news organizations “the enemy of the American people.”

Maybe he should look in the mirror every once in a while — assuming he can see past his thin skin and narcissism — and ask who else might reasonably be considered a U.S. enemy.

How about someone who has:

  • Repeatedly lied to the American public
  • Attacked the judiciary, Muslims and other minorities, women, the disabled, war heroes, journalists, TV shows and performers, businesses, and intelligence agencies
  • Claimed that millions of people voted illegally in the last election despite all evidence to the contrary
  • Nominated unqualified/ethically challenged/ideologues (choose one or more) to head cabinet departments, and in some cases undermine their missions
  • Encouraged the rise of white nationalist hate groups
  • Carried on a bromance with Russia’s ruthless dictator Vladimir Putin
  • Refused to make public his tax returns
  • Created myriad conflicts of interest as president by retaining ownership of his far-flung business empire
  • Conducted sensitive diplomatic discussions in public at Mar-a-Lago
  • Demonstrated gross transition and governing ineptitude
  • Alienated trusted allies and large numbers of federal employees
  • Failed to reassure the majority of citizens who voted against him that he understands their concerns
  • Relied on senior advisors with zero experience in government
  • Presided over a White House staff marked by infighting and disarray
  • Struggled to fill key positions in his administration
  • Promoted a delusional dystopian vision of America
  • Slammed the door on refugees and immigrants escaping war, terrorism, economic hardship, and criminal violence
  • Called climate change a Chinese hoax
  • Dismissed Russian interference in the 2016 election as fake news

According to this column in the Washington Post, he wouldn’t even be granted a security clearance if he were applying for a White House position now.

If being a threat to American values and democracy were a crime, Donald Trump’s framed image in government offices would be replaced by a wanted poster — Public Enemy #1, hiding in plain sight. His ranting and ravings, insults and bullying, are nothing but the projections of a seriously unbalanced personality that is manifestly unfit for the presidency.

Projecting

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Last week, I spoke with the head of Mar-a-Lago’s Catering Department under the pretext of holding a wedding reception there. I began by telling her I was a big fan of the president, and was excited by the prospect of celebrating my daughter’s marriage at his famous club. Even though I wasn’t a member, I asked, would it still be possible to reserve the main ballroom? “That won’t be a problem,” she replied. “What date did you have in mind?” “We’re pretty flexible,” I explained. “You must be booked months in advance already, given all the Trump supporters who’d love for a special family occasion to be blessed by the president’s brand.”

Before diving into details, I asked if any Muslims were on staff. “Why do you want to know this,” she responded. “Terrorism, of course. But if you do have Muslim employees, I’m sure each was subjected to the extreme vetting President Trump says is necessary to keep Americans safe.” “Mar-a-Lago doesn’t discriminate,” she announced with considerable irritation before hanging up on me.

It was good to hear that Islamophobia isn’t running as rampant on Florida’s Gold Coast as it is in the current White House. My only hope is that the catering head went on to tell her friends and colleagues about the nutcase she spoke to earlier. Maybe she even mentioned it to her boss who was down for the weekend entertaining the Japanese prime minister.

One question I’m sorry I never got to ask though: Are guests allowed to carry guns at the reception?

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Friday’s newspapers reported that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency had stepped up its “enforcement actions” (otherwise known as raids) in cities across the nation in order to arrest and deport illegal immigrants. Unlike previous dragnets during Obama’s presidency that focused only on violent criminals, these could potentially include anyone who fit the broad criteria outlined in Trump’s executive order of January 25th — basically any undocumented immigrant.

A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security claimed that this week’s activity was a routine targeting of dangerous lawbreakers, and denied reports that checkpoints had been used. The administration’s ambivalent statements on the subject did nothing to assuage the panic and fear gripping at-risk minority communities. From the NY Times:

In Austin, Tex., undocumented women working in a laundromat cowered in the back of the room, petrified after seeing a video and a photograph of apprehensions outside a local grocery store and burger joint.

A day laborer and mechanic in Staten Island told his 17-year-old son where the list of emergency contacts were, including the name of the guardian who would take responsibility for him and his two younger siblings.

In Savannah, Ga., undocumented restaurant workers were asking for rides rather than walking home, afraid they might be stopped and questioned.

(more…)

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At a televised town hall meeting on January 12th of this year, House Speaker Paul Ryan assured an undocumented mother that there wouldn’t be a deportation force under the incoming administration, and that situations like hers would be handled humanely.

It sounded very compassionate at the time, but it was total BS. Thursday, less than a month afterwards, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) summarily deported Guadalupe García de Rayos, a Mexican native and mother of two U.S.-born children, who had lived in this country since she was fourteen. She may have been the first victim of Trump’s January 25th executive order to “prioritize for removal” any illegal immigrant convicted of, or even just charged with, a criminal offense. Caught in a workplace raid of questionable constitutionality 8 years ago, she was found to have a false Social Security number (the lowest type of felony), and spent 6 months in jail. While appealing voluntary deportation, she was allowed to continue living here as long as she checked in with ICE on a semi-annual basis. It was during one of those appointments on Wednesday that she was arrested and sent to Mexico the next morning.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton called what happened a travesty. “She has been peacefully living and working in the Valley for more than two decades, and by all accounts was building a life and contributing to our community,” he said.

Is this what Ryan calls “humane”? Does tearing this family apart with zero time to even share goodbyes make us feel any safer — which is the ostensible reason for this draconian policy? Does it resemble anything you would associate with a “pro-life, pro-family” agenda? Is this the kind of country we want to have?

It is nothing but the cruelest of acts, and tells you all you need to know about Speaker Ryan, his Republican minions, and an Oval Office occupant who is a much greater threat to our democracy than any terrorist.

Every Law

Every Law Not Based On Wisdom Is A Menace To The State.”

Inscription at the base of a sculpture at the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division, First Department in Manhattan, just 31 blocks south of Trump Tower.

(photo by sm)

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I keep reading about the need for the left to reach out to the great swath of Trump supporters in order to understand the roots of their disaffection with the political establishment.

Is anyone suggesting the reverse: that Trump voters get why the “so-called president” has provoked such opposition both in this country and abroad?

Not gonna happen.

Why would it?

Aside from right-wing nationalists and white supremacists, most of Trump’s support comes from workers upset about losing jobs and being ignored by Washington. Funny how few of them showed any concern for those individuals — usually with darker skin — who were losing their lives. Stuck in the echo chamber of fake news and alternative facts, they live in a bubble of ignorance, paranoia, and prejudice. Like the narcissistic man in the White House, they’re unable to look past their own material self-interest.

Perhaps now that the Great Bait-and-Switch of 2017 has occurred —a cabinet full of Wall Street billionaires and an executive branch intent on shredding the safety net, workplace safeguards, and environmental and consumer protections, Trump’s blue collar fans will realize they’ve been played for suckers — “losers” to use one of the Child-in-Chief’s favorite words.

What better reason for them to find common ground with other marginalized groups, and discover that it needn’t be a zero-sum game.

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I called the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC today, the one in the Old Post Office building that’s already in violation of its lease with the General Services Administration.

Before making a reservation, I told the clerk I had a few questions. Knowing how much our president wants to keep us safe from terrorists, I wanted to be sure there were armed guards on every floor. He said that wasn’t the case so I then asked if Muslims were restricted from registering as guests or entering the building. He explained to me that the hotel doesn’t discriminate. I didn’t feel comfortable with that policy and ended the conversation by stating I would look for another Trump property with more stringent protections in place.

I’m pretty sure the clerk didn’t know what to think.

If Donald Trump refuses to acknowledge that profiting from his commercial empire while president creates serious conflicts of interest, his businesses are fair game for protest. Fortunately, an excellent tool first developed by Bernie Sanders’ digital campaign team allows us to do just that. Check it out.

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