U.S. President-elect Donald Trump yells to members of the media from the steps of the main clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., November 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
It has been one of the longest weeks in human history and the Trump presidency has not even begun yet. Any notion that reasonable, well-intentioned people should give him a chance—hey, maybe he was just kidding about all that hateful, bigotedstuff he spewed on the campaign trail—was immediately dispelled. One of his first official acts was to name the anti-Semitic mastermind of the racist “alt-right,” fake news website Breitbart, Steve Bannon, to chief propagandist and horse’s ass whisperer. The president-elect dodged the media, regained control of his Twitter account and proceeded to confirm all of our worst fears about him.
If it was not already clear, Trump plans to surround himself with sycophantic yes-men who share his racist views and will just as gleefully set about laying waste to civil liberties and justice as he will. Also, his unelected children will be playing major roles in the new White House, it appears, while also running his businesses.
“We won,” he and his team have told anyone who disagrees with them. They have every plan to claim all the spoils. Here is a partial list of the both the horrors and the mere affronts to decency Trump has visited upon us this week.
1. He tapped Jeff Sessions as his Attorney General.
Early loyalist Sessions has been rewarded for being one of the earliest lap dogs for Trump with one of the most powerful positions in the country, Attorney General. The two men share a deep love of racist policing, hatred of civil rights and desire to roll the clock back to approximately the 1950s. That would place us well before the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act, Roe v. Wade and nationwide legalization of gay marriage. Sessions would also be perfectly positioned to undo some of the gains made during the Obama Administration to reverse the worst effects of the 1994 Omnibus Crime bill that rained mass incarceration down on vast portions of the black and Latino populations. The two share a hatred and demonization of marijuana. Sessions once hilariously joked that he liked the KKK until he heard they smoked weed. Another piece of common ground: they both hate immigrants, with Sessions saying in 2006 that no one from the Dominican Republic has anything of value to contribute to the United States.
Alabama Senator Sessions was deemed too openly racist to be a federal judge by Senate Republicans in 1986 after President Ronald Reagan nominated the then United States attorney from Alabama. Former colleagues gave devastating testimony about Sessions’ blatant racism. But Senate Republicans are not what they used to be.
There’s no evidence that the years have dimmed Sessions’ racist views, which are apparently right in line with his new boss man. On Friday, Sessions praised Trump’s demand for the death penalty for the Central Park Five in 1989. He said it shows that Trump has always been a “law and order” guy. The teenagers Trump demanded death for were fully exonerated by DNA evidence and shown to have been victims of police railroading. Despite all this inconvenient truth, Trump has continued to stand by his earlier bloodlust, and now the nation’s likely top prosecutor has praised him for it.
That is some very twisted law and order.
2. His surrogate floated the Muslim registry idea and justified it by citing one of the most shameful pieces of American history.
One of the more terrifying campaign ideas Trump floated was the idea of a registry for Muslims in this country. Undaunted by the very real comparison between this and the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany, the president-elect has made it clear that this awful breach of human rights, and act of outright religious persecution, is still very much a possibility.
A prominent Trump backer and spokesman for a major super PAC that backed him by the name of Carl Higbie laid out the legal justification for this atrocity on Wednesday to a horrified Megyn Kelly. His argument was that the mass internment of Japanese Americans during World War II was a “precedent” for Trump’s planned Muslim registry. Since it has a “precedent,” a kind of legalistic term that Higbie was just using to mean something like this happened before, the Muslim registry would therefore “hold constitutional muster,” Higbie argued.
Kelly tried in various ways to express her utter shock and dismay that Japanese internment camps were being used as some sort of positive example of how the United States should behave today.
Higbie may just be a Trump-loving supporter with no official role, but word is that the Muslim registry is definitely being considered. A day earlier, an actual member of Trump’s transition team, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, said Trump’s advisers were discussing whether to send him a formal proposal for a national registry of immigrants and visitors from Muslim countries. It’s happening.
Kobach, whose other claim to fame is crafting a law making it legal for police to profile Latinos, was said to be in line for the Attorney General position. Now he’ll have to wait for another plum position, like czar of immigration.
3. He tapped insanely Islamophobic retired General Michael Flynn for top national security post.
There is every indication that Trump has great respect for fellow hotheads, as long as they are sufficiently sycophantic and Islamophobic. Retired General Michael Flynn, Trump’s truly frightening pick for national security adviser, fits the bill perfectly.
Flynn served in Iraq and Afghanistan and was later tapped to lead the Defense Intelligence Agency. Obama subsequently fired him. It is unclear at what point he became the virulent Islamophobe with a shaky grasp on the truth, but that is who he is today. Ever since, he has been sounding the amped-up alarm about the threat posed by extremist Islamic groups and blaming Obama for “coddling” them to anyone who will listen. And Trump very obviously listens to him and in fact wants to keep on listening to him.
What President Trump will likely hear from Flynn are variants on his recent tweet, “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL.” He has also said in interviews that he considers Islam—yes, the whole religion—a cancer that has metastasized. Another thing Flynn likes to say is: “Lock her up,” referring to Hillary Clinton.
4. He invited his daughter to a meeting with the Japanese prime minister.
Way before his election, Trump had shattered every norm of someone aspiring to public office, using campaign press conferences to promote his hotels, refusing to release his tax returns, and ignoring the usual rules regarding conflicts of interest. Surprise, as president-elect, he’s still writing his own rules as he goes. Early in the week, he was said to be requesting security clearance for his kids and son-in-law.
He has promised to place his business holdings in a “blind trust” while he is president, and of course he always keeps his promises. The “blind trust” would also be run by his kids, so not really blind at all. Plus, his kids are part of the government now! They are part of the transition team!
As the week wore on, after confusing the hell out of the Japanese prime minister about when and where they would meet, Trump invited daughter Ivanka to attend. So far no word if she will be selling any of the items she wore to the meeting online.
5. He took credit for the fact that a Ford factory is not moving to Mexico when it was never going to move to Mexico.
On Thursday, the president-elect tweeted that he got a phone call “from my friend Bill Ford, Chairman of Ford, who advised me that he will be keeping the Lincoln plant in Kentucky—no Mexico.”
He tweeted this because had he sent a press release, the mainstream media just might have (no guarantees, but might have) looked into it and found out that Ford was never going to close the factory in question. To get even more granular, the company had considered moving one production line to Mexico, but the move would not have cost any Americans their jobs, and then it decided not to. Details, details.
But that did not prevent Trump from taking credit for it and calling it a win for him. And it did not prevent various fake newsoutlets from agreeing and perpetuating his false claim. And now he’ll say it a bunch more times, and the fake news outlets will say it a bunch more times and then it will become true.
That’s the way things work in the post-truth world.
6. He demanded an apology from the “Hamilton” cast.
On Friday night, our virulently homophobic VP-elect Mike Pence went to see the smash hit Broadway musical “Hamilton.” There, in addition to being entertained, he was also booed. At the end of the show, cast member Brandon Victor Dixon delivered the message to Pence that many Americans are truly afraid and worried that the new “administration will not protect us, defend us and uphold our inalienable rights.”
This rather mild, and completely true statement—millions of Americans really are worried!—was termed “harassment” by our new commander-in-chief in waiting on Twitter the next day. It was so rude, Trump said, and demanded an apology.
Without a trace of the bitter irony that surrounds us every day, Trump invoked the notion of a “safe space” in his tweets about the incident. “The theater must always be a safe and special place,” he said.
Let the boos continue to rain down upon both of these deplorable men and their cast of horribles, forever.