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Distractor-In-Chief

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While He Was Tweeting: The Authoritarian Edition, Week 31


The chaos President ended the week by revealing his true bigoted self, obfuscating his cruelest of actions with Hurricane Harvey. Here’s the news you may have missed.



As the rest of the country watched with worry and dread waiting for Hurricane Harvey to make landfall in Texas, Trump took the opportunity to pardon Sheriff Joe Arpaio. To be fair, at least he didn’t perform the pardon via tweet. He took the time, instead, to issue a two-paragraph statement that basically said that Sheriff Joe, a deeply racist horrorshow that terrorized people of color in Arizona for decades, was of course a great American and therefore a pardon was the best idea ever. (He did, however, cheerily announce it on Twitter by declaring that Arpaio “kept Arizona safe!” 

To be fair, Trump had a lot of time on his hands to issue a pardon since he decided to take a vacation to Camp David this weekend rather than keeping an eye on events in Texas. He’s got to be exhausted after his 17-day vacation that just ended.

It was an appalling week even before the pardon. Trump basically ignored the crash of the U.S.S. John Mccain, managing only to say that it was “too bad” and then feebly tweet “thoughts and prayers” about it. Honestly, it’s safe to assume Trump has neither thoughts nor prayers.

Trump also decided, early in the week, to stare directly into the sun during a solar eclipse, which is a thing that even actual tiny schoolchildren know not to do. Never one to miss a chance to be sycophantic, Fox’s Tucker Carlson praised it as “perhaps the most impressive thing any president has ever done.” Imagine being so devoted to a cult of personality that you would actually praise that person for staring at the sun.

Trump also spent the week going after his own party on Twitter, retweeting memes and unwarranted praise from his pathetic supporters. So, basically like every other week.

Also like every other week? Someone gets quitfired at the end of it. This week it was actual factual Nazi-lover Sebastian Gorka who lost his job. Did he quit? Did John Kelly force him out? Does any of it matter, since the administration is stocked with tons of these people even after Gorka’s departure?

Let’s not forget that Trump also traveled to Arizona to have a campaign rally, to throw some red meat to the faithful, and to relitigate his own statements on Charlottesville. He insisted on reading his previous remarks on the violence there, but managed to omit the part where he talked about violence on “all sides.” He also offhandedly told the crowd that he’s probably going to walk away from NAFTA because he doesn’t think we can get a deal. This would make more sense if negotiations had actually really begun.

In a less insane world, we’d be talking about how awful it is that the President is having campaign rallies only seven months into his presidency, but that’s almost literally the least of our problems. We had a ton of other problems this week.

On the same day Trump blew off (no pun intended) sticking around for a hurricane and pardoned Arpaio, his administration also clearly signaled that it is going to kill DACA. DACA—Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals—was instituted by Obama and allowed children who were brought to the United States absent documentation to remain as long as they met certain conditions. It’s broadly popular—even 73% of Trump voters support it. But none of that matters. Trump is happy to punish children—literally completely innocent children—just to prove he really really really hates immigrants, just like his base.

Trump also spent Friday kicking trans people in the teeth by finalizing the military ban on transgender troops. In just three short pages, Trump threw out years and years of thoughtful study under the Obama administration and declared, in a typically Trumpian fact-free way, that transgender troops could compromise unit cohesiveness and affect military effectiveness. Guess it is unsurprising that someone who obtained five deferments so he didn’t have to serve in his generation’s war would have no understanding of how the military works.

Speaking of troops—we’re throwing a few thousand more of them at the intractable problem of Afghanistan. Remember when pundits like Maureen Dowd explained to us that Hillary would be the real warmonger and Trump would keep us out of further military expansions like this?

The complete evisceration of all environmental protections continues apace under this administration. The Department of the Interior just killed a study that looked at the health effects of mountaintop mining in Appalachia because they’re focusing on “responsibly using taxpayer dollars” and apparently studying the health of actual taxpayers isn’t a responsible use of money? Of course, this administration is led by someone who literally thinks that clean coal is coal that is literally somehow scrubbed clean once it is brought to the surface.

Not to be outdone, the EPA killed its sponsorship of an awards program that honored companies who undertook voluntary actions to minimize their environmental impact and combat global warming.

Agencies continue to scrub all mention of “climate change” on government websites. This week, it was the National Institutes of Health, which changed all references to “climate change” to just “climate.” They’re just going to keep memory-holing science, aren’t they?

Trump’s loathing of science and scientists clearly knows no bounds. His nomination for chief scientist at the USDA actually isn’t a scientist at all. He’s Sam Clovis, a right-wing talk radio host, big Trump fan, and climate change denier. He also thinks homosexuality is a choice and that protections for LGBT individuals leads to pedophilia. Definitely seems like someone who is totally cut out to provide top-notch science guidance regarding agriculture.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is also getting in on the memory-hole act by removing information about worker fatalities from its homepage. Where you used to be able to see a list of workers who were killed on the job and their cause of death, you now see a box that tells you OSHA is partnering with employers for safer workplaces. Yes, this administration has really signaled that it will care about worker safety.

We learned last week that the DOJ had demanded Dreamhost turn over information about over a million visitors to a website where people had helped organize anti-inauguration protests. Dreamhost fought it, and the DOJ slightly narrowed their request to include only a 6-month timeframe and dropped the demand for unpublished drafts and metadata.  This week, a judge ordered Dreamhost to comply with the narrowed warrant. There are some protections in place—the government has to give up the names of the people who will example the data and create a plan explaining how they’ll avoid collecting data on “innocent” site visitors—but it is still disheartening to see a judge grant this incredible invasion of privacy. 

Finally, in the most perfect storm of conflicts of interest, the Trump organization is suing the city of Washington D.C. because it feels that D.C. made it pay too much in taxes prior to it being fully ready. Everyone warned us Trump would be grifty, but this is some next-level grift. It’s terrifying to realize he has over three more years to cause this much havoc, hurt this many people, and still find time to drain the public coffers.

Until next week. 

 

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