“Facing the Beast”
I can’t count the number of times that I’ve read some variant of the phrase “when will Republicans finally put country ahead of party?”. Surely by now we all know the answer: it ain’t gonna happen. What we’ve seen over the last week is our country falling even deeper into fascism. I don’t use that word lightly. Yet Republicans are all on board, competing to see who can be more fawning over Trump, who is most willing to embrace and embellish his most recent lie.
They will never do the right thing. They have to be defeated and driven out.
We need to throw them out of office. But we also must fight back day by day, telling the truth, insisting on the truth from others and from the press, and using pressure to resist and undo the damage Republicans are causing. This is a battle for the soul of our country. I implore you to take it up and not to cease until it’s won.
“Give Me My Wall – Or the Kid Gets It”
“This kind of treatment deserves to be called evil and named as torture. It defaces the image of God all of us bear. It traumatizes and terrorizes. If outrage alone isn’t enough to undo such cruel policies, it remains the indispensable starting point for effective resistance.”
– John Gehring, “A Heartless Policy”, Commonweal
The Trump regime continues it’s inhumane policy of ripping migrant children away from their parents and holding them in large pens or camps. Children as young as eighteen months have been taken. Infants have been torn away while breastfeeding. Parents have been told their children were being taken away “for a bath”, never to see them again. Mothers have been told “families don’t exist here” and “you have no family now”. As you can imagine, this policy is creating permanent damage for these children and their families.
If you thought we were exaggerating when we warned that Trumpism would be like Nazism, think again.
In response to public outcry, Attorney General Jeff Sessions claimed that he was just following the Bible, which tells him to “obey the law”, though the separations aren’t “the law”, they’re a Trump regime policy (and though tearing children from their parents is about the least-Christian thing anyone could do). Sarah Huckabee Sanders echoed his words. Trump, the coward, blamed the Democrats – one more outrageous lie. Meanwhile, they’ve incarcerated over 2,000 children and are saying that they haven’t fully “ramped up” yet. Camps are already at capacity.
Is it possible to make this even worse? Yes, because now Trump is using the children as hostages, wanting to trade reunion with their parents for funding his border wall. There is no word in the English language that can possibly describe how utterly despicable, loathsome and base he is.
Our Senator, Dianne Feinstein, has sponsored legislation to force the return of the children to their families, the Keep Families Together Act, S 3036. Senator Kamala Harris is a co-sponsor. To date, they have 43 Senators on board – no Republicans and not all of the Democrats. One of the things we must do is to create enough noise that the others are forced to sign on. We can do this by calling relentlessly, by using social media to keep the issue in front of people and by asking our representatives to visit the camps – with film crews – to shine a bright light on the atrocity our government is committing.
“He’s the head of a country, and I mean he’s the strong head. Don’t let anyone think anything different. He speaks, and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.”
– Donald Trump, about Kim Jong-Un
At the beginning of the week, after inflicting serious damage on America’s relationship with our allies and, of all countries, Canada, Trump flew to Singapore for his summit with Kim Jong-Un. There was pomp. There was propaganda. But there wasn’t progress, at least not for the United States. No solid agreement to anything. Instead, there were give-aways: the recognition Kim has always wanted. The cancellation, suggested to Trump by his buddy (boss?) Vladimir Putin, of military maneuvers with South Korea.
Kim Jong-Un is one of the worst despots of our time, a murderous thug who starves his people and holds hundreds of thousands in concentration camps. Trump, as evinced by the quote above, doesn’t have a problem with that. In fact, he seems to admire it. As Maya Angelou once said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them. The first time.” Trump is showing us who he is.
“The job of the free press is to seek the truth and report the truth, especially the morally important truths and their consequences. If the press fails to do this job, not only does it lose its freedom, but we all do.”
– George Lakoff and Gil Duran, “Trump Has Turned Words Into Weapons. And He’s Winning the Linguistic War”, The Guardian
“We live in a lie now, perpetrated from the very top, enhanced by relentless propaganda, and designed to shore up what is a cult. It is growing in strength. It is precisely now that we must manage at every moment to dispel it. And then to vote, en masse, for its extinction.”
– Andrew Sullivan, “Trump Is Making Us All Live in His Delusional Reality Show”, New York Magazine
Encouragingly, this week there were a number of articles about the need for the press to be careful about the way that it reports on the Trump regime. Far too often headlines repeat Trump’s tweeted lies – and that’s all the casual reader will see or remember. Editors must be far more careful, as must writers: starting an article with a lie will have the same effect. Trump is spinning a fantasy world and he is doing it deliberately, weaponizing the lies. Our freedom hangs in the balance. It’s important to read critically yourself, but also to call out the press when they fail in their duty, as well last to tell others. Above all, it’s important, as Sullivan writes, to dispel the lies and hold onto the truth. And then to vote for the Republicans’ extinction.
In Other News
- Former Trump Campaign chairman Paul Manafort was sent to prison for alleged witness tampering while on bail. Manafort is a key player in what appears to be the conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 election.
- The FBI Inspector General released his report on the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email investigation in 2016. He found no reason to criticize the conclusion that there was no wrongdoing, but he was concerned about emails between FBI agents Strzok and Page that appeared to show political bias (against Trump) and, unsurprisingly, about James Comey’s departure from protocol in making public announcements about the case, the latter of which may have decided the election in Trump’s favor. Un-investigated was the role of disgruntled New York FBI agents in leaking information to Rudy Giuliani during the campaign, which may have influenced Comey’s action.
- Michael Cohen, Trump’s fixer, lost his lawyers, who withdrew from representing him. There is speculation that Cohen is seeking a plea deal, which may be part of the maneuvering to establish a deal.
- Cambridge Analytica, closed down, has risen from the ashes as Data Propria, a new company run by CA’s former head of products, who is joined there by CA’s former chief data scientist. They’re working on the 2018 midterms for Republicans and on Trump’s 2020 campaign. This is dangerous: the Cambridge Analytica dirty tricks were really, really bad.
- The markets are pretending not to care, for now. But Trump is still forging ahead with his trade wars, levying tariffs on China. They’ll retaliate. Former Trump cabinet member, Gary Cohn said that the effect of the trade wars could undo any savings Americans might get from the great Republican Tax Scam. Could be far worse than that, I’d say.
- Word is, Canadians are starting to boycott American goods. Can you blame them?
- The New York Attorney General’s Office is suing the Trump Foundation for, basically, not being a foundation at all, but rather a conduit for funds to handle Trump affairs. Penalties will include millions in fines and barring Trump and his adult children from engaging in philanthropy for some time, if the suit is successful. Congrats to David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post for originally uncovering this corruption.
- The Supreme Court upheld an Ohio law aimed at voter suppression. Mitch McConnell’s theft of a Supreme Court seat is paying off for him.
- More evidence surfaced to indicate that the NRA operated as a conduit for Russian money into Trump’s campaign in 2016.
- Rob Rogers, editorial cartoonist of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, was fired after twenty-five years for lampooning the worst president this country has ever had.
- Puerto Rico is still suffering. The paper towels, apparently, didn’t really work.
- Mike Pence, the Swamp Dog, is using the Vice-Presidency as a gateway for lobbyists. Need reminding of who recommended Pence to be VP? That’s right. Alleged felon and Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, now behind bars, awaiting trial.
- The Javanka grift show rolled on, as conflicts of interest continued unabated.
- Scott Pruitt continued to make the news, with even more scandals. How long can he keep this streak going?
- And Robert DeNiro provoked unnecessary handwringing by exclaiming, “F*ck Trump!” at the Tony Awards. No kidding, Robert.
If you do just one thing this week, please, make it this: help the children so that they can be reunited with their parents. Call your members of Congress, write, protest, donate. Don’t stop until they’re back together with their parents, where they belong. Imagine. What if they were yours?
– Tom Benthin
A reminder: a key resource for tracking all the abnormal events from the past week of the Trump presidency is Amy Siskind’s Weekly List: theweeklylist.org .
Before the disaster of the 2016 election we could follow the events that affected our lives by checking the news or seeing occasional posts on Facebook. Since then, with Trump’s erratic, aggressive and autocratic behavior and the Republicans’ unceasing attacks on our government and their efforts to transfer ever more money from working Americans to the rich, it has become much more difficult – and more important – to find our way through the weekly onslaught of news. To get ourselves grounded in the facts and to prepare for the week of action ahead, we provide this weekly summary of critical events to help us cut through the distractions and stay focused and informed as we fight to preserve our democracy.