Every time I go to write a piece on this current president some new weirdness pops up that afternoon, and I wait to see how it’s going to shake out, and then in the meantime something else blows up.
His Communications Director, from the Joe Pesci school of Congeniality, just got the sack after ten days on the job. We are presently in another restart phase for the Trump presidency, now featuring a new-and-improved, and supposedly butt-kicking, Chief of Staff. Many of us feel that the problem was never anybody on the staff as much as it is simply the madness of King Donald.
But didn’t Trump just bring in a gigantic new employer to the United States? Foxconn? This is the outfit that runs the sweatshops for Apple in China. They were most famous for the numbers of workers who committed suicide at the factories. Trump and company gave Foxconn three billion dollars to open a plant in Wisconsin. Imagine the effect if instead they gave one million dollars to three thousand companies across Wisconsin, or maybe across America.
Here’s hoping the Foxconn story plays out better than Trump’s last entry in the Jobs-Jobs-Jobs sweepstakes – the much, much ballyhooed Carrier deal.
Recently Donald Trump gave a speech before a convention of police officers that became one more of the “little moments” that flash by in the news stream, likely to be forgotten, but which may spell massive trouble down the road for this country.
It certainly wasn’t the first. My favorite of the many little moments remains the meeting he had in the Oval Office with Russian honchos Lavrov and Kislyak, supposedly done at the request of Putin himself. No American press was allowed. (They’re the enemy, right?) No Americans at all, other than Tillerson and Trump. The Russian regime was warmly welcomed, along with the compliant Russian press. The question is not what they talked about. The question is, why in the hell would any sane American have Russian spies romping around in the Oval Office to begin with?
The speech for the police officers was not as memorable as the Russian flag-planting ceremony at the White House, but it definitely belongs on the list. And there is a list.
The cops were extolled by the commander in chief not to be “too nice” or “too gentle” with suspects. The familiar practice of holding down a suspect’s head so it doesn’t slam against the roof of a squad car was particularly rankling to the president, apparently. Trump said it wasn’t necessary. Big cheers all around from the heroes in blue.
A visitor from outer space could be forgiven for not understanding that we have a rampant problem with abusive police in this country. It doesn’t matter that it isn’t every cop, or most cops. Not every civilian is a criminal, either. For those who are, there should be accountability.
This episode followed Trump’s speech to the Boy Scout Jamboree, which has been described by more than a few people as sounding more like a Hitler Youth rally than any kind of wholesome family affair. The BSA leader felt compelled to issue an apology for the content of the president’s speech.
There is a point that hasn’t been raised here yet. Donald Trump, who calls for rougher treatment from the country’s police forces, is the same guy who has consistently expressed fawning admiration for the practices of abusive dictators around the world. Indeed, despotic dictators are about the only ones who are exempt from Trump’s familiar onslaught of insults and invective.
In the Philippines, their president Duterte has endorsed extra-judicial killings as a way to control drug trafficking. What this means in practice is that you can pump bullets into the body of your enemies and say “they were drug dealers” and go on home. Thousands have been slaughtered. Not only alleged drug dealers but also drug users are fair game now in the Philippines. But the president of the United States, Donald Trump, said president Duterte was doing “an unbelievable job” in dealing with the drug problem in the Philippines.
I guess in a literal sense it is true; the situation is unbelievable. But an unbelievable atrocity. Nothing good, as Trump thinks it to be. Trump went on and on during his phone call to his Philippine counterpart: “I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem,” he said. “Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that.”
Similar respects for Turkey’s despot, Erdogan, who stood on American soil and watched his goon squad brutally beating American protesters, some nearly to death.
Much warmth from Trump also for Egypt’s military dictator, Sisi.
“I just want to let everybody know that we are very much behind President Sisi; he has done a fantastic job in a very difficult situation.” Sisi has suspended civil rights in Egypt since 2014, and sentenced hundreds of political prisoners to death. Here he is with Trump and the Saudis on Trump’s first overseas visit as president.
The Chinese strong man Xi Jingpin is a “good guy.” Never forget Trump’s response in 1990 to the Chinese massacre of hundreds, maybe thousands, of protesters in Tiananmen Square. He said, “When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak … as being spit on by the rest of the world.”
And of course Trump clearly favored the ultra-right nationalist Marine Le Pen of France, who lost her election. Le Pen in the midst of her campaign made a trip to Russia to visit Trump’s all-time favorite of favorites, Vladimir Putin. No other world figure has been the recipient of more kind words and heartfelt best wishes from Donald Trump than the former KGB boss.
Trump’s love for authoritarianism is no secret. He would bring it to America if he could. But his support has not grown beyond his cult-like base. There is no reason to believe that it ever will. The only question is how much damage he will do to this country before his final, Big Bankruptcy.
We will have to amend the old saying, “It can’t happen here.”
From now on, it will be, “It can happen here, but for a limited time only.”