Apocalypse Now: Trump starts dismantling women’s rights, reverses Keystone and Dakota Access Pipeland blocks, freezes EPA grants, and blocks information from USDA

Okay, I’m going to try to avoid highlighting all the missteps and stupid things the Tr*mp administration is doing, for if I did that I’d post nothing else. Let me just call to your notice four bad things that his administration just did:

1.) Trump signed an executive order yesterday barring any NGO (“non-governmental organization) that gets US funding from providing abortions or evening mentioning them as a possibility. As the Guardian noted,

The rule will put thousands of international healthcare workers in the difficult position of deciding whether to continue to offer family planning care that includes abortion at the expense of a critical funding stream. Many international health advocates insist that their efforts are not comprehensive without abortion services. Unsafe abortions are a major cause of maternal mortality and kill tens of thousands of women every year.

The US is the single largest donor to global health efforts, providing nearly $3bn toward health efforts through the United States Agency for International Development (USAid) alone. The state department and groups like the Peace Corps offer additional funding. A spokeswoman for International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) said the group will not abide by the gag rule and stands to lose up to $100m it currently receives from the US. None of that money is used for abortion services.

Public health advocates across the globe warned that a change in funding would have grave consequences.

“It would be devastating,” said Amu Singh Sijapati, president of the Family Planning Association of Nepal, a member of IPPF. Her association has used the funds to train healthcare workers and open clinics in remote parts of the country that offer long-acting, reversible contraceptives to disadvantaged women.

The loss of funds would limit the reach of her organization, she said. “Funding cuts would mean we can’t support … the government of Nepal’s effort on sexual and reproductive health and rights. Additionally we would not be able to run community clinics or mobile health days or train healthcare workers. The impact also means we would lose essential medical staff like nurses, doctors and health experts.”

Here’s a photo of Tr*mp signing the executive order. The number of people equals the number of Y chromosomes. In a Guardian commentary on the photo, an enraged Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett says this:

The stupidity of the blinkered, religiously motivated agenda on display here is that no matter what legislation these men implement, they will never succeed in banning abortion, per se, only safe, legal abortion. Marie Stopes estimates that, as a result of the reimposition of the global gag order, the loss of their services alone could result in 6.5m unintended pregnancies during Trump’s first term, 2.1m unsafe abortions, and 21,700 maternal deaths. In passing this law, these patriarchs have fathered millions of unwanted children, helping to create lives that could very well turn out to be painful and potentially motherless.

screen-shot-2017-01-24-at-10-39-10-am

(from Guardian): Reince Priebus, Peter Navarro, Jared Kushner, Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon watch as Donald Trump signs the executive orders in the Oval Office, 23 January 2017. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

2.) Today Tr*mp on signed another executive action to facilitate construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines. After the Obama administration blocked construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline last year because it endangered waters on Native American lands, Trump simply overturned that. So much for considering the wishes of those whom we displaced. (The Keystone XL pipeline was blocked in November of 2015 by the Obama Administration, which claimed it didn’t serve the needs of Americans.) It’s clear the that the Tr*mp administration will simply run roughshod over environmental concerns.

3.) The US Environmental Protection Agency has been not only given a gag order (no press releases, no social media, no blog posts, and no new content on any website), but also ordered to freeze all of its grants, including ongoing ones. As the Daily Kos reports, (partly quoting a PuffHo piece):

EPA staff has been instructed to freeze all its grants ― an extensive program that includes funding for research, redevelopment of former industrial sites, air quality monitoring and education, among other things ― and told not to discuss this order with anyone outside the agency, according to a Hill source with knowledge of the situation.

These grants power everything from sampling pollution around Superfund sites to community recycling programs and environmental education programs used in schools. The grant lockdown follows reports that Trump intends to cut $815 million from the EPA’s budget, destroying not only the ability to fund research, but to enforce existing standards.

Requests for comment from the EPA drew no response. Of course.

4.) Tr*mp and his minions blocked any release of information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. As BuzzFeed reported,

The US Department of Agriculture has banned scientists and other employees in its main research division from publicly sharing everything from the summaries of scientific papers to USDA-branded tweets as it starts to adjust to life under the Trump administration, BuzzFeed News has learned.

According to an email sent Monday morning and obtained by BuzzFeed News, the department told staff — including some 2,000 scientists — at the agency’s main in-house research arm, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), to stop communicating with the public about taxpayer-funded work.

“Starting immediately and until further notice, ARS will not release any public-facing documents,” Sharon Drumm, chief of staff for ARS, wrote in a department-wide email shared with BuzzFeed News.

“This includes, but is not limited to, news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds, and social media content,” she added.

Can governmental denialism of anthropogenic global warming be far behind?

h/t: Gregory J.

181 Comments

  1. busterggi
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    What global warming?/

  2. Phil_Torres
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    “In passing this law, these patriarchs have fathered millions of unwanted children, helping to create lives that could very well turn out to be painful and potentially motherless.”

    But wait, I thought Christina Hoff Sommers said that patriarchy no longer exists! 🙂

    This is genuinely horrifying. We are being locked into, via path dependence, a genuinely catastrophic future.

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted January 24, 2017 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      People has a statistical tendency to put sociopaths on leading positions, and sociopaths has a statistical tendency to commit murder by pen. It is an unfortunate outcome of democracy.

      In other news the Trumpet blows hard, again.

    • BJ
      Posted January 24, 2017 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

      Well, according to repeated polls over the years, there are more women in the US who want abortion banned than men. It’s not a matter of patriarchy, it’s a matter of religion.

    • Posted January 24, 2017 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

      There are so many inexpensive and reliable methods of contraception, abortion should be unnecessary. It certainly shouldn’t play a significant role in birth control or family planning. This is the 21st century, not the 19th.

      • Rasmo carenna
        Posted January 25, 2017 at 2:11 am | Permalink

        Well, I guess that “inexpensive” (as well as available) depend on which part of the world and which population you are thinking of.

        • Posted January 25, 2017 at 3:16 am | Permalink

          Wherever the NGOs are, contraception is affordable or free. If it weren’t, that would mean they were failing at their job. An abortion (a safe one, at least), is no less expensive than contraception.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted January 25, 2017 at 3:50 am | Permalink

            As everybody knows perfectly well, it doesn’t always work and isn’t always used. And the NGO’s can’t be omnipresent.

            By that token, contraception is surely affordable and readily available in the US of A – so why does anyone in USA ever need an abortion?

            I think you’re just a hairsbreadth from saying that any woman who has an unwanted pregnancy, it’s her own fault. Do you think, like the Trump, that she should be punished?

            cr

            • Posted January 25, 2017 at 4:23 am | Permalink

              Where did you get the absurd idea that Trump thinks women should be punished for having an unwanted pregnancy? Some rabidly anti-Trump “journalist”, no doubt.

              Anyway, back to the topic: if contraceptives are available and people don’t use them, that’s a choice. It does not imply a need for abortions.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted January 25, 2017 at 5:22 am | Permalink

                “Where did you get the absurd idea that Trump thinks women should be punished for having an unwanted pregnancy? Some rabidly anti-Trump “journalist”, no doubt.”
                I believe the Trump said as much at some campaign meeting, and doubtless some rabidly anti-Trump journalist had the bad taste to quote him.

                On the other issue, thank you for confirming my hypothesis.

                cr

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted January 25, 2017 at 5:41 am | Permalink

                Oh, and I was wrong. The Drumpf did *not* say a woman should be punished for having an unwanted pregnancy – just for having an abortion.

                Here you are, don’t tell me you missed it:

                and
                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1Jpoecf0xY

                cr

              • Posted January 25, 2017 at 6:39 am | Permalink

                He was addressing a hypothetical that was put to him, to wit, if abortion were made illegal, should a woman be punished for having an abortion. By logic, she would be the guilty party in that case, so he gave the obvious answer, i.e. that there should be punishment of some kind, as there’d be no point in something being illegal if it weren’t going to incur a penalty. Unaccustomed to the tricks of hostile journalists, he didn’t realise quickly enough that they were setting up a sound bite designed to be used misleadingly out of context.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted January 25, 2017 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

                @preegrino
                “Unaccustomed to the tricks of hostile journalists, he didn’t realise quickly enough that they were setting up a sound bite designed to be used misleadingly out of context.”
                Oh, poor innocent Mr Trump. Given his recent action, it hardly seems to have been used misleadingly.

                Note that he eventually came round to saying that the woman shouldn’t be punished, the doctor should. So either way women ARE punished by being denied an abortion.
                To get himself off the hook, all he would have had to say would be “I wouldn’t make abortions illegal”.

                cr

          • J. Quinton
            Posted January 25, 2017 at 8:16 am | Permalink

            Where is this magical contraception that is 100% effective?

            • Posted January 25, 2017 at 9:49 am | Permalink

              An IUD is simple to use, is 99% effective, and even works if inserted up to seven days *after* sex (so it can do the job of a “morning after” pill).

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted January 26, 2017 at 12:50 am | Permalink

                And for the unlucky 1%, what would you recommend?

                cr

              • Posted January 31, 2017 at 10:03 am | Permalink

                If the mother still doesn’t want it, how about adoption?

      • dallos
        Posted January 25, 2017 at 3:34 am | Permalink

        “The Soviet decree on abortion was passed in December 1920, in response to a growing spate of illegal abortions, complications and deaths:

        1. To permit such operations to be made freely and without any charge in Soviet hospitals, where conditions are assured of minimising the harm of the operation.”

        http://alphahistory.com/russianrevolution/soviet-decree-on-abortion-1920/

        • Posted January 25, 2017 at 3:45 am | Permalink

          In 1920, reliable contraceptives were not easily available anywhere, and certainly not in Russia, which was a very backward country at the time, and was in also chaos due to the revolutionary civil war and various insane policies of the Bolsheviks. The situation in Russia in 1920 is therefore of no relevance to the world in 2017, where contraceptives of every type are mass produced at very low prices in places such as India.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted January 25, 2017 at 3:54 am | Permalink

            I wouldn’t call free-of-charge state-provided abortion ‘backward’. Maybe a bit too advanced, in fact, by about a century, I’m not sure if the US has caught up with it yet [/snark]

            cr

            • Posted January 25, 2017 at 4:25 am | Permalink

              It’s backward, because it is a very crude and relatively unsafe substitute for contraception.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted January 25, 2017 at 5:26 am | Permalink

                I’m not aware that anyone has ever proposed abortion as a *substitute* for contraception – only as a remedy for when contraception, for whatever reason, has not been used / not worked.

                cr

              • Posted January 25, 2017 at 6:42 am | Permalink

                Abortion was used in the Soviet block as a substitute for contraception for decades. They never got round to manufacturing an adequate supply of contraceptives. This fact is notorious, and should you be using the Soviet Union as an example of anything if you don’t know such basic things about the place?

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted January 25, 2017 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

                I was thinking in recent terms – YOU claimed the Soviet Union in the 1920’s is not relevant to now.

                Exactly how much do you know about the Soviet Union? In fact, who are you?

                cr

              • Posted January 31, 2017 at 9:42 am | Permalink

                I explained precisely why the situation in 1920 is not relevant to the present argument. If you don’t like my argument, deal with that.

            • Posted January 25, 2017 at 4:28 am | Permalink

              Moreover, “free of charge” is not a very meaningful term in a communist country where every citizen is a slave of the state and money has been abolished (as it was in the early days of communist Russia).

          • Jonathan Wallace
            Posted January 25, 2017 at 5:19 am | Permalink

            “In 1920, reliable contraceptives were not easily available anywhere, and certainly not in Russia, which was a very backward country at the time,…”

            Further up-thread you assert that reliable contraception is available free or cheaply wherever NGOs operate. That is not true – they are usually operating in countries that are at least as backward as the Soviet Union was in the 1920s. With difficulties of local governance and infrastructure as well as little issues like wars (and associated problems such as punitive rape) they simply cannot reach every woman before an unwanted pregnancy occurs.

            If NGOs do not offer safe abortion to such women this will not stop the babies being aborted – instead the women will be driven to ‘back-street’ abortionists who operate without appropriate hygiene or clinical competence and potentially cause death or serious health problems for the women.

            I don’t believe that any Planned Parenthood NGOs simply provide abortion as a convenient form of birth control for those too feckless to use contraceptives – as you point out it is more expensive and, even if done in a proper clinical setting, carries risks for the mother. They are, however, recognizing that what happens out there in the real world is generally a good deal messier than people who suggest that contraception is cheap, widely available and all that is needed seem to understand.

            • Posted January 25, 2017 at 6:23 am | Permalink

              With regard to availability of contraception, nowhere is as backward as Russia was in 1920. In 1920, neither the pill, nor a safe iud, nor the latex condom had been invented, let alone reached Russia. In other respects, such as war, lawlessness, lack of basic medicine or even hygiene, sure, there are some terrible places in the world, but availability of abortion is the least of anyone’s worries in those places. Other priorities, such as mere survival, take precedence. First establish some semblance of order, then train up some nurses, and then go home, because the nurse don’t need meddling foreigners telling them what to do.

              • Jonathan Wallace
                Posted January 25, 2017 at 8:39 am | Permalink

                If you believe that abortion is never justified ever, under any circumstances please say so. You are entitled to hold that view and if you do there is no point in discussing in which circumstances it may or may not be appropriate for US aid to fund it. Many of us do not hold that view, however, and are able to see that as a part of an overall health-care and family planning service it can help to improve the lives of women and their families.
                As previously noted, NGOs are NOT going around the world promoting an epidemic of reckless irresponsible sexual behaviour with abortion as a convenient tool for disposing of the inconvenient outcomes of such behaviour. However, some offer abortion as a small part of their overall service in order to prevent women seeking the services of dangerous back-street abortionists.

              • Posted January 25, 2017 at 9:51 am | Permalink

                I’m not saying it’s never, ever justified under any circumstances, but there’s no reason why it should be common, given the available options, so there’s no reason why the U.S. not funding NGOs to provide it should be a big deal.

              • Jonathan Wallace
                Posted January 25, 2017 at 10:19 am | Permalink

                No big deal to you perhaps but it can make a profound difference for the worse in the lives of some women. What’s more by blocking all funding irrespective of whether that funding is used for abortions is vindictive, punitive and harms poor people by preventing a much wider range of assistance being provided.

                And who is saying that abortion should be common? I’m sure that most people would see it as a last resort but if you’re out of options it is good to have that last resort available in a safe, hygienic environment.

              • Posted January 31, 2017 at 9:38 am | Permalink

                The USA is not the only source of funding for medical charities. Blocking all funding from the US federal govt is not blocking all funding.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted January 25, 2017 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

                ” First establish some semblance of order, then train up some nurses, and then go home, because the nurse don’t need meddling foreigners telling them what to do.”

                So says the …gentleman… who is never going to need an abortion himself.

                The nurses, even when trained (hint: It’s more than a short part-time course), will certainly need a supply of drugs, and contraceptives, and a functioning hospital, and none of this comes cheap, so in the less developed countries they will certainly need support from ‘foreigners’.

                “availability of abortion is the least of anyone’s worries in those places” – anyone, that is, who doesn’t happen to be pregnant.

                I’d echo Jonathan’s suspicions – are you an anti-abortionist? If so stop dancing round the subject and admit it.

                cr

              • Posted January 31, 2017 at 9:35 am | Permalink

                You know all those babies that get born in Africa and survive? If they can do that, they can do abortions. Anyway, you may not be aware of this, but in much of the Third World, there is widespread awareness of natural abortifacients obtainable from common plants, so the need for furriners to provide this service is nowhere near as desperate as you think.

                In answer to your question, no, I’m not anti-abortion. I’m anti-pro-abortion. I think abortion campaigners have a weird obsession that’s kind of sick.

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted January 25, 2017 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

                If the pro-life movement that Donald Trump has joined ever succeeds in its announced goal of enacting a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the “personhood” of fetuses, then abortion really will become “murder,” by definition, and will have to be prosecuted as such under the “equal protection” clause of the United States Constitution.

                That will also require a prohibition on any form of post-conception contraception, including any that interferes with the implantation of a fertilized egg.

              • Posted January 31, 2017 at 9:58 am | Permalink

                Late-term fetuses are no different from babies born premature. To deny personhood to such living, sentient members of species Homo sapiens on grounds of mere legal convenience strikes me as lousy — inhumane, even.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted January 31, 2017 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

                “You know all those babies that get born in Africa and survive? If they can do that, they can do abortions.”

                What, safely?

                If, that is, they are not prevented from doing so by religion.

                “I think abortion campaigners have a weird obsession that’s kind of sick.” Strange, I think ‘pro-life’ campaigners are the ones with the obsession.

                cr

              • Posted February 1, 2017 at 12:14 am | Permalink

                Well, some pro-lifers have an obsession, but that is more than matched by the obsession of pro-abortionists. The abortion group care more about abortion than about childbirth. Childbirth is a much bigger health issue for women in the third world, but they don’t seem to care about it. Supply of good contraception methods makes need for abortion virtually nil, but they don’t seem to care about that, either. Funding for abortion can be obtained from many sources, but if the federal government isn’t paying for it, they wig out as if it’s the end of the world.
                I think there are a few things going on here: (1) the campaigners are actually opposed to childbirth, motherhood and family, (2) they are race-based eugenicists, but don’t like to say so, (3) they are neo-Malthusian fanatics, but don’t like to say so, (4) they hate conservative Christians and promote abortion specifically in order to antagonize that religious group, (5) they are Americans, and American politics always gravitates towards binary polarization even when compromise is possible. Most countries have achieved a compromise on abortion that people are generally contented with, but not the USA. It has to be totally free to women, paid for by the state, and available right up to the moment of childbirth. Nothing less will satisfy. Adoption as an alternative to abortion must not be considered, let alone promoted, despite the abundance of would-be adoptive parents. And it must be taught that abortion it’s empowering and good for women, and to be celebrated, which is a weird idea, because an abortion is generally a result of a mistake or misfortune.

                Why not just admit that abortion is (to almost everyone) an ugly, distasteful, sad thing, and worth avoiding if possible, and, since it’s a personal choice, it’s no more the government’s duty to fund it than is any other medical procedure. Why not just be satisfied that abortion is legal and widely available if wanted?

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted February 1, 2017 at 12:49 am | Permalink

                “Why not just admit that abortion is (to almost everyone) an ugly, distasteful, sad thing, and worth avoiding if possible, and, since it’s a personal choice, it’s no more the government’s duty to fund it than is any other medical procedure. Why not just be satisfied that abortion is legal and widely available if wanted?”

                Two things: It’s no more or less the government’s duty to fund it than any other medical procedure (for those who can’t afford it). If one accepts a moral responsibility to help those in need of medical care then IMO that includes abortion if needed.

                Second: “Why not just be satisfied that abortion is legal and widely available if wanted?” IF it *were* legal and truly available to all if wanted, then everybody on the pro-choice side would be very happy, they could pack up and go home.

                This thread is getting old, I’m off.

                cr

              • Posted February 1, 2017 at 1:43 am | Permalink

                It is in the U.S. Around the world, it’s not the U.S. government’s problem.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted February 1, 2017 at 3:15 am | Permalink

                That is just so wrong and just such a wildly misleading blanket statement I can’t be bothered arguing any further.

              • Posted February 1, 2017 at 3:21 am | Permalink

                It’s right. You’d have a mighty hard time showing it was wrong if you bothered to try.

              • GBJames
                Posted February 1, 2017 at 7:09 am | Permalink

                “The abortion group care more about abortion than about childbirth.”

                Well, now, that’s just bullshit.

                I’m one of those who you would call in the “abortion group”. I’m a supporter of Planned Parenthood and an advocate for women’s choice. Planned Parenthood spends a very small proportion of its funds on providing abortions and a very large amount on other health services. Regarding pregnancy, the emphasis is on preventing unwanted pregnancies with birth control and abortion is the last resort when prevention fails.

                The people who seem to care little about helping children seem to be largely among the anti-choice crowd, largely Republican religious types, who systematically work to defund access to birth control, sex education, women’s health services in general. At home and abroad.

              • Posted February 1, 2017 at 9:08 am | Permalink

                If what you say is true, then your solution is very simple: either (a) leave abortion to another organization, and concentrate on the other issues you feel are more important, or (b) make sure you have plenty of other sources of funding besides the US federal government, so you don’t find yourself short of money every time a republican president gets elected.

                That way, this ridiculous row won’t keep recurring.

              • Posted February 1, 2017 at 9:15 am | Permalink

                P.S., I’m curious: do you liaise with adoption agencies? And do you advise clients about the possibility of offering an unwanted baby up for adoption? Or do you ignore this possibility altogether? Because, from what I’ve seen, the adoption route is actively discouraged.

              • GBJames
                Posted February 1, 2017 at 9:23 am | Permalink

                This “ridiculous row” will keep recurring because anti-choice zealots are incapable of accepting that a woman should be allowed to decide for herself such questions. Pregnancy is a fact of biology and there will always be unintended pregnancies. The goal should be to minimize them with truthful sex education and widely available contraceptives, two things that are anathema to religious anti-choice crusaders.

                I’m not in the business of advising women about adoption or abortion. I’m in the business of advocating for their right to determine for themselves what they want to do without interference from people like you.

              • Posted February 2, 2017 at 12:15 am | Permalink

                Your evasive answer indicates that you tell them about abortion but not adoption. You’re not pro-choice, you’re pro-abortion. You’re not interested in offering a choice; you’re tacitly steering women towards abortion.

                As for me, I don’t interfere. I merely notice that your practices, consciously or not, reflect the legacy of the thinking of early 20th century progressive eugenicists and neo-Malthusians, whose goal was to limit births, which they pursued by pointedly not encouraging adoption, but only encouraging birth control and adoption, and persuading women to delay marriage and have smaller families. This is not surprising, as modern abortion clinics were first rolled out under the sponsorship of the Eugenics Society.

                I note your aside about religion. I’m not coming at this from a religious point of view. I’m not against all abortion, and I’m certainly not against contraception. I merely note that there is a streak of dogmatism on the abortionist side that matches that of the anti-abortionist side of the debate.

              • GBJames
                Posted February 2, 2017 at 6:58 am | Permalink

                My answer was not in the least evasive. You seem to have the idea that I’m in the business of advising women about health matters. I’m not.

              • Posted February 2, 2017 at 9:04 am | Permalink

                Not advising, just advocating. Right, gotcha. Does your advocacy ever mention adoption, and if it does, does it do so in a positive light?

              • ThyroidPlanet
                Posted February 2, 2017 at 8:11 am | Permalink

                A. I can’t grasp the point that is assumed to be coming soon here in this side-thread.

                B. Why can’t I reply to the next level? Too many levels?

              • GBJames
                Posted February 2, 2017 at 9:16 am | Permalink

                I believe you are being intentionally obtuse, Peregrino. Out of respect for our host’s rules I’ll not respond further.

    • Michael Waterhouse
      Posted January 24, 2017 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      Just because there is no feminist ‘patriarchy doesn’t mean there aren’t religions patriarchs.

      Horrifying is correct though.

  3. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    I was heartened to learn that these executive orders are handed down from president to president and they can more or less assert their power. So the next president can reverse them. I read that one has been flip flopped since Carter, can’t recall it.

    This of course assumes the orders don’t end permanently the things being ordered about. And that appears to be the objective here.

    • Derek Freyberg
      Posted January 24, 2017 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      if I recall something I read yesterday, the order on overseas funding and abortions was put into effect under a previous Republican administration (Shrub?) and reversed by Obama.

    • eric
      Posted January 24, 2017 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      That would be #1, the abortion one. That has flip flopped every presidency since Reagan, who started it with the Mexico City Policy.

      So I personally wouldn’t put that on the Trump highlight list. Any GOP president would have done exactly the same thing so it’s not an indication of Trump’s extremism.

      #4 is also sort of typical. Meaning its pretty typical for incoming leadership to say “as of now, we approve all new PR messaging.” However I don’t think any prior administration has reached as deep as, say, not allowing web site updates and such.

      • Posted January 24, 2017 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

        The only previous administration to have needed to consider a block on website updates would have been Obama’s. The internet was pretty basic and relatively static when GWB came to office, and didn’t have anything like the reach it has now. It wasn’t officialdom’s main PR channel.

  4. Geoff Toscano
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Somewhat ironic, but poignant, picture of a group of smug blokes, not a woman in sight, deciding to take away women’s rights.

    • Claudia Baker
      Posted January 24, 2017 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

      Yup. Ironic, poignant and sickening.

      • Michael Waterhouse
        Posted January 24, 2017 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

        Beyond sickening. A crime against humanity.

    • Ken Phelps
      Posted January 24, 2017 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      Kind of like the iconic photo of the Saudi Women’s Conference that was entirely uncontaminated by women. I guess assholes must have feathers, since they flock together.

  5. Genevieve
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    This is very disturbing. How does one “fight back”? Any suggestions?

    • Craw
      Posted January 24, 2017 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

      Is this a serious question? Then a serious answer: oppose actual, particular, policies and make arguments for actual changes. Write polite letters to senators and representatives and newspapers. Make them substantive not emotive. Make them about particular things, not “the resistance” or “the extinction of democracy.” Do not wear silly pink hats and call people racist.

      • Genevieve
        Posted January 24, 2017 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

        Yes, it is a serious question.

        • Posted January 24, 2017 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

          Go to Google, or the search engine of your choice. Search for “Indivisible Guide”. It was put together by people knowledgeable about how the government works and tells “how to
          resist and persist to get government to change.”

          Apparently, calls have more impact and post cards receive more attention than letters.

    • Posted January 24, 2017 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      Just a suggestion but start fighting the next election now.

      For as long as I remember Americans – Democrats and Republicans – have wasted too time trying to overturn the previous election when they should have been gearing up for the next one.

      • Michiel
        Posted January 25, 2017 at 5:15 am | Permalink

        Well said. The Democrats need to fight back on the state level first. Read up on the Republicans’ Redmap effort.
        http://www.redistrictingmajorityproject.com/
        This has been wildly succesful in solidifying the Republican’s power in states, and consequently in the house and senate, even when a majority of American’s actually vote democratic.

        The Democrats need to organise at the state level and start translating votes into election victory power. They obviously cannot rely solely on demographic and social changes. They already have more votes than the Republicans but they’ve been almost totally shut out of government regardless.

        This looks interesting too:
        https://brandnewcongress.org/

        (btw I’m not an American, just an interested and worried observer from Europe, with American friends)

    • Ken Phelps
      Posted January 24, 2017 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      Unrelenting harassment of every elected official, at every level, with frequent repetition of the phrase “midterm election”. Do not omit identifiable Republicans even at the local level, since they have ambitions too.

  6. GBJames
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    sub

  7. Posted January 24, 2017 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Trump is signing whatever his cohorts put in front of him, and probably not reading a single word of it, not that he would have a conscience about any of it, but he’s too stupid to come up with this stuff on his own. This is a hey-day for every Bond-esque corporate villain that crawled out of the woodwork and into Trump’s circle-jerk of influence as he effectively signs anything positive the government does into non-existence. I only hope the existing environmental stimulus has shifted the market with enough momentum to allow consumer interest to drive renewable energy production.

    The DAPL move is interesting. That wasn’t an entirely left-motivated campaign and I know a lot of Trump-fanatics who simultaneously and fervently supported the tribes in that conflict. The cognitive dissonance should be interesting to observe, though, I’m sure their regular news sources will play this down, or simply neglect to mention it.

    • Craw
      Posted January 24, 2017 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      “Trump is signing whatever his cohorts put in front of him, and probably not reading a single word of it”

      This is ridiculous. Whatever else Trump is, he’s in charge.

      • Kevin
        Posted January 24, 2017 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

        Comprehension is not the same as reading ability.

        My son and I are dyslexic and can hardly read more than a few sentences but can comprehend a great deal. Trump may be in charge, but, like myself, he probably not only dislikes reading but may be unable to do it.

      • darrelle
        Posted January 24, 2017 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

        Not ridiculous. Trump being “in charge” does not conflict with people in his circle giving him stuff that they have conceived or support, and Trump signing it not knowing or giving a shit what the details are. In fact nearly everything Trump has shown us over the past year, heck, over the entire history of his celebrity life, makes it rather plausible.

        • Posted January 24, 2017 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

          I have little to no doubt that the Cheeto-In-Chief gets much more pleasure in his narcissistic little brain from the attention of the act of signing than he does from any of the substance of what he is signing.

          My fervent hope that after he gets bored with playing President and quits.

          • Posted January 24, 2017 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

            sorry about the typos, but you get the gist.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted January 24, 2017 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

            Sadly, I have no doubt that you and Darrelle are both right.

            cr

          • Posted January 24, 2017 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

            Yep.

          • darrelle
            Posted January 25, 2017 at 7:44 am | Permalink

            Yuuuup. I think we’ve seen enough of Trump to be pretty confident that he really is that shallow.

      • Posted January 24, 2017 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

        Please expand on why it’s ridiculous.

        • darrelle
          Posted January 25, 2017 at 7:41 am | Permalink

          Funny. That is precisely what I first wrote when I started my comment above in response to Craw, but then decided to say more.

    • eric
      Posted January 24, 2017 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

      This is a hey-day for every Bond-esque corporate villain that crawled out of the woodwork and into Trump’s circle-jerk of influence as he effectively signs anything positive the government does into non-existence.

      No, this is the lead-up to the heyday. Many of the corporate shills have yet to be confirmed. When they are, then will be the heyday.

    • Posted January 24, 2017 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

      Agree.

  8. Posted January 24, 2017 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    How are executive orders compatible with democracy?

    • veroxitatis
      Posted January 24, 2017 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      Today the UK’s Supreme Court upheld a decision of the English High Court that rights given by Parliament may only be taken away by Parliament by way of primary legislation. It would be unlawful for the Prime Minister or any other Minister of the Crown to bypass Parliament by using residual powers under the Royal Prerogative. The Court made it clear that such use would overturn many centuries of settled constitutional law. I believe that to be correct as far back as at least 1689 and the Bill of Rights when James II fled Britain and William III & Mary II ascended.
      Perhaps the US has something to learn about democracy.

      • eric
        Posted January 24, 2017 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

        Executive branch office operation is not “rights given by Congress”. Well I guess technically in a sense it is, because Congress delegates many functions to the Executive branch, but both our two main parties and the US population in general is pretty happy with the concept of things like the EPA, USDA, DOD, etc. operating under the Executive branch. Not even a democratic Congress would want to change that.

        Congress *does* have a few of its own organizations. But Trump hasn’t tried to issue any orders over them, he arguably legally couldn’t, and Congress likely wouldn’t let him get away with it if he tried.

      • Posted January 24, 2017 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

        Eh, you probably have something to learn about our form of democracy. Congress passes the laws and the executive branch is to enforce them but they have a wide range of latitude with how they do it. Many executive orders go through extensive hearings and such before they are issued.

        Obama (and no question presidents before him) issued executive orders on things because it’s an essential part of the rule making process. Where he caught flak was in the claim that he was issuing EOs that did not comport to the passed law or failed to enforce existing law, especially immigration issues.

        I look at it this way. Police are part of the executive branch but they don’t give tickets to every speeder they see. But the chief could issue an order to his men to stop everybody exceeding it and give them a ticket. Which way is right could potentially be up to the courts to decide. That’s one of the reasons they are there.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted January 24, 2017 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

          Considering the unchecked power that has suddenly been given to this self-evident flako, your form of democracy is in urgent need of some adjustments.

          cr

        • eric
          Posted January 24, 2017 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

          I would make the argument that there is currently too much involvement of Congress in the nitty gritty of executive branch operations. Something like 1,100 executive branch appointments need to be approved directly and solely by the Senate with every change of administration (in addition to thousands of Judicial ones that have a slower turnover rate). That’s too many. Drop it to 100 or 200 and let the rest be SES positions.

          On top of that, Congress typically delves into budget requirements at the $millions and $tens of millions level. For a country that measures its departmental budgets in the billions, that’s pretty micromanagey. They should probably not be spending their limited session time on 0.1% increments of executive branch departmental budgets.

          If they’re going to spend time on Exec branch functions, I’d much rather they dictated strategy and long-term goals, rather than arguing over whether Bob’s Community Center in Podunk South Utah should get $20M of HUD funds or $25M. But that’s just my opinion.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted January 24, 2017 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

            I would agree with that but then, when it comes to screwing with billions in aid budgets and hence affecting policies internationally, apparently that’s just down to the President’s whim?

            Something is seriously out of whack.

            cr

  9. Posted January 24, 2017 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Every moment a new post, each more upsetting than the last

  10. jeffery
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    – and we thought the last administration had a problem with “transparency”? This one’s going to be completely opaque! I just stated in a comment forum this morning that, once it seeps through their thick skulls that they can’t release “alternative facts” without being loudly called out on it, they’ll simply start not releasing any facts at ALL!

    “A sexual predator, a con-man, and a pathological liar walk into a bar- the bartender smiles and says, “Well, hello, Mr. President; what’ll it be tonight?”

  11. Posted January 24, 2017 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Here’s a photo of Tr*mp signing the executive order. The number of people equals the number of Y chromosomes

    More than likely correct.

    The alleged link between criminality and 47, XYY karyotype is a myth.

  12. Zach
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    In passing this law, these patriarchs have fathered millions of unwanted children, helping to create lives that could very well turn out to be painful and potentially motherless.

    As long as their eternal souls get dutifully harvested for Jesus, who cares, right?

  13. Posted January 24, 2017 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    I hate to say it, but I am sort of glad that Trump is embarking on this extremist agenda. A moderate Trump might entrench him. The voters who elected this dangerous buffoon need to see what they are getting, so that in future elections perhaps sanity can prevail.

    And, yes, in the meantime things will be bleak.

    • Carey
      Posted January 24, 2017 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      I think of Identity Politics on the left and Tea Party/Freedom Caucus on the right as twin cancers. Trump is like chemotherapy-painful, often worse than the disease, and not always effective. I hopeful our nation will survive, but it will be difficult.

    • eric
      Posted January 24, 2017 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

      The voters who elected him will blame Obama and the Democratic party for any economic, social, or environmental devastation that results from Trump’s policies. Just watch.

      • Jonathan Wallace
        Posted January 25, 2017 at 5:30 am | Permalink

        Yes, led by Republican politicians and news sites. In the UK the Tories continued to blame the Labour party for economic problems for years after they took over 10 Downing Street. They never explained how the British Labour party caused a financial breakdown that was worldwide in its impacts but hey-ho…

    • Posted January 24, 2017 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

      I hate to disagree with you, but I think a great many of the people who voted for Trump wanted him to be strong and forceful. Take away all those government “freebies” given to lazy people that pull money from the pockets of us hard-working citizens. We: the real Americans.

      This so-called very successful businessman millionaire who knows how to get things done, but is being sued for hundreds of millions of dollars. His business practices are despicable.
      How many of his businesses have gone bankrupt?
      Fortunately, he can’t bankrupt the U.S. as we’re already there and have been almost from the beginning of our country. Obama is not responsible for the deficit.

  14. Ken
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    ‘EPA staff has been instructed to freeze all its grants’

    Universities, national laboratories, and state/county agencies are reeling from this and wondering, as am I, whether the administration has any thought to the impact this will have on the safety and well being of people living in the US.

    • eric
      Posted January 24, 2017 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

      They clearly didn’t think about it for more than a minute or two if it’s true that they directed that the order be kept secret and not discussed. It only takes a minute of consideration to figure out the truck-sized flaws in that.

  15. Posted January 24, 2017 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Anybody else see the Spicer show today? He was asked three times about Trumplethinskin’s voter fraud claim. Basically, Spicer’s reply was, “Yeah I know it’s bullshit but he believes it is true. So I’m going with that.” Also, “He’s seen some studies that indicate this is fact.”

  16. Merilee
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    😖

  17. Garry VanGelderen
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    No comment. Just a link for those who might be interested:http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/1/24/1624523/-Trump-s-government-gag-order-blocks-agencies-from-talking-to-Congress

  18. Historian
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    What Trump is doing now is only the beginning. Much worse is on the way. But none of what he is doing should be a surprise. It is was all predictable long before the election. He is an authoritarian and wannabe autocrat. Masha Gessen, a scholar of Russia who is quite familiar with autocrats makes the following suggestions on how to deal with them.

    Rule #1: Believe the autocrat. He means what he says.
    Rule #2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
    Rule #3: Institutions will not save you.
    Rule #4: Be outraged.
    Rule #5: Don’t make compromises
    Rule #6: Remember the future.

    She goes on say:

    “Failure to imagine the future may have lost the Democrats this election. They offered no vision of the future to counterbalance Trump’s all-too-familiar white-populist vision of an imaginary past. They had also long ignored the strange and outdated institutions of American democracy that call out for reform—like the electoral college, which has now cost the Democratic Party two elections in which Republicans won with the minority of the popular vote. That should not be normal. But resistance—stubborn, uncompromising, outraged—should be.”

    The complete article, from the New York Review of Books, is well worth reading. Timidity by Trump’s opponents must not prevail. The activism and enthusiasm of Saturday’s marches must be channeled into continuous and unrelenting political opposition. Republicans used this strategy to oppose Obama for eight years. I hope, but am not convinced, that the Democrats have learned the lesson.

    http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2016/11/10/trump-election-autocracy-rules-for-survival/

    • Garry VanGelderen
      Posted January 24, 2017 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      FYI: https://www.indivisibleguide.com/

      • Historian
        Posted January 24, 2017 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

        Yes, I have been to this website before. It was set up by congressional staffers, who have written a brochure entitled “Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda.” It presents an extremely detailed program for resisting Trump. I consider it indispensable for those wanting to learn the nitty-gritty of anti-Trump activism. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

      • nicky
        Posted January 24, 2017 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

        I think this is the way to go, possibly the only way that can bear fruit. A very important strategy document.
        I hope our host has seen it too.

  19. BJ
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    We all know Trump doesn’t really care about what he’s doing, and is just placating the conservatives that put him in power. I really don’t think the man has any ideology or goals beyond stroking his own ego, and that’s what the presidency is for to him.

    He has brought us the most conservative cabinet in recent history, and things are only going to get worse from here. Still, I’ve already seen many Republican friends and acquaintances start to question him. He has no Democrats in either the citizenry or government on his side, and I wonder how long it will be before he is roundly despised by all but the most conservative people in this country (maybe 15-20% of the population). At that point, what will a man driven by ego and the yearning for people to think he is wonderful do? Will he lash out, or reverse course?

    I hope we don’t have to wait too long to find out.

  20. Posted January 24, 2017 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    It is downright alarming what’s happening to our country. Silencing the EPA and National Parks Service from communicating with the public is alarming. I write more about it here if you’re interested. Plans to drill on federal lands are in sight. https://nomadadvocate.wordpress.com/2017/01/24/plans-to-drill-more-especially-on-federal-lands/

  21. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    How can a presidential executive order be overturned or challenged?

    for instance why can’t any other branch develop a law to override it?

    Further – what prevents the executive order from being something like saying everyone has to eat peanut butter at 3PM on Wednesdays, or plant 3 trees a year?

    • ajlowry
      Posted January 24, 2017 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      An EO is a directive to agencies within the government, not the public in general.

      • Posted January 24, 2017 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

        EO’s have been used for everything from interning Japanese Americans during WWII to desegregating schools.

        Clinton used one to take America to war over Kosovo.

        They’re something you need to get rid of. When laws passed by EOs are revoked by EOs and then reinstated and revoked again you should recognise granting Presidents powers they can wield at a whim isn’t any more sensible than it is democratic.

        • Jeff Lewis
          Posted January 24, 2017 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

          Executive orders themselves aren’t the issue. And they’re not laws. They’re merely the boss giving written instructions to his staff on how he wants things done. I mean, he is the boss, and that is in his job description. Being the President isn’t just a figurehead.

          Abuse of power is an issue, but that would happen with or without calling these directives ‘executive orders’.

    • busterggi
      Posted January 24, 2017 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

      Mostly the willingness or lack thereof by the other two branches to fight it.

    • eric
      Posted January 24, 2017 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

      The legislative branch holds the power of the purse; they can always zero out or screw over the President’s budget priorities if he upsets them. With a GOP House and Senate, this is extremely unlikely. but it’s the normal way the party holding legislative power reins in a President of the opposite party.

      Federal workers could sue if they think some new EO is unlawful, but they’d better have a really good case. It had better obviously violate the constitution or something.

  22. Greg Geisler
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    It’s official. The Koch Brothers won. They are wasting no time in enacting their agenda and there is no one in their way to offer any formidable resistance. This is a very sad time that we are living in.

    • Posted January 24, 2017 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

      The Koch brothers are libertarians. Not sure they would approve of Trump’s protectionism and Keynesian infrastructure spending schemes.

      • Posted January 24, 2017 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

        The libertarian magazine Reason is anti-Trump too.

        • Posted January 24, 2017 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

          Libertarians see him as “not a conservative”. He’s probably mute of a conservative than they are, but they understand conservatism in very narrow terms.

  23. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    In the wake of Trump,

    1) Berkeley Rep staged a new adaptation of Sinclair Lewis’ “It Can’t Happen Here”

    2) At least 3 websites posted the concluding speech by the Jewish barber in Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” (which I did a reading of at San Francisco Shakespeare’s alt-inauguration event last Friday morning)

    3) Sales of 1984 boomed since Conway spoke of “Alternative Facts”.

    4) This morning I ran into a post suggesting Trump is like the bullying 6 year old boy with psychic powers in the Twilight Zone episode “It’s A Good Life”.

    With padding and commentary you can watch it here
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CeyYnw_cjPs

    • Posted January 24, 2017 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      1) Berkeley Rep staged a new adaptation of Sinclair Lewis’ “It Can’t Happen Here”

      It has just been reprinted in the U.K. as a Penguin Modern Classic.

  24. barn owl
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    Worst. President. Ever.

    • Marilee Lovit
      Posted January 24, 2017 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

      Period.

      • Posted January 24, 2017 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

        And it only took 3 days!

        • barn owl
          Posted January 25, 2017 at 5:40 am | Permalink

          A terrific new record. It’s bigly and yuge.

  25. kieran
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    Trofim Lysenko comes to mind. Only research that agrees with the leader shall be published. Bad for science, bad for business eventually and sucks for normal Americans whose food and water may be contaminated

    • bric
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 4:33 am | Permalink

      In his 1977 obituary of Trofim Lysenko, the British biologist Cyril Darlington commented that Lysenko was “obviously ill-educated, quite shallow, very cunning and a little deranged” – sound familiar?
      Apart from the 3000+ biologists who were executed or imprisoned untold millions died through famine in the USSR directly as a result of Lysenko’s influence.
      Now consider the cumulative effect of suppressing the EPA and the DoA: a very few persons will get much richer, and many people will at least get poorer, some will die.
      Also 1 in 3 Californians think their state should leave the Union

      • Posted January 25, 2017 at 11:36 am | Permalink

        And unlike the Soviet case, which was horrendous enough, with the US being as influential (in the bad way, in this case) as it is, gutting the EPA affects our whole species (and many others).

  26. Posted January 24, 2017 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    counting the days……

  27. Posted January 24, 2017 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    As with the rumors about eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts, any “news” about the Trump administration’s actions should be taken with a grain of salt rather than disseminated as Gospel truth. E.g., the USDA has already disavowed the alleged gag rule on their scientists (see below). I suggest we all adopt a wait-and-see stance on unconfirmed reports, even the one below.
    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-usda-idUSKBN1582OB

  28. rickflick
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    If Planned Parenthood stands to lose $100m for overseas operations, it seems to me the EU and China could fill the need more or less effortlessly. Let’s hope someone plugs the gap until Trump can be sent packing.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 24, 2017 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

      I sincerely hope so too, but it isn’t just Planned Parenthood’s $100m. The total is $3bn.

      I expect the EU funds a lot of aid already, it’s not as if they have spare money lying around. They’d have to divert the $100m from somewhere else. I hope they can.

      The same probably applies to China. Maybe they might be more ready to, insofar as it would represent increasing their influence at the expense of the USA, and they are not religiously wedded to ‘pro-life’ nonsense.

      cr

    • rickflick
      Posted January 24, 2017 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

      This just in:

      The Dutch Government is planning to launch an international fund to finance access to birth control and abortion in developing countries, in order to fill the gap left after the Trump administration announced it would no longer fund any overseas aid organisations which discussed abortion.

      The Dutch rock!

      • merilee
        Posted January 24, 2017 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

        +1000

      • eric
        Posted January 24, 2017 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

        Give the US a year, and we may be eligible for those funds!

        • bric
          Posted January 25, 2017 at 4:37 am | Permalink

          Your optimism that it will take a year is admirable!

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted January 25, 2017 at 3:25 am | Permalink

        +1000 from me too.

        cr

      • Jonathan Wallace
        Posted January 25, 2017 at 5:41 am | Permalink

        As a bit of light relief this clip shows just how much the Dutch rock!

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-xxis7hDOE

  29. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    To my mind, it is on the issue of abortion rights that Donald Trump most clearly reveals his sociopathic tendencies.

    As recently as a decade and a half ago, Trump publicly announced that he was adamantly pro-choice, going so far as endorse a women’s right to a so-called “partial birth” abortion during the final trimester of pregnancy. Now, he claims the mantle of the staunchly pro-life.

    Others, notably George H.W. Bush and Mitt Romney, have undergone similar conversion experiences on abortion upon voicing their presidential ambitions. But both GHWB and Mitt claimed that their tergiversation on the matter was do to some wrenching (if unidentified) personal experience with abortion. And, once they changed their minds, both of them at least made the effort to learn the tropes and policies of the pro-life movement.

    Not so the Donald. He has given no explanation, cited no experience, and appears to have changed his mind on abortion purely as a matter of political expediency, once he decided to run as a Republican. This was apparent to all in his campaign appearance at a townhall hosted by Chris Matthews when, pressed to stop bullshitting and say what he thinks, Trump famously blurted out that women who have an abortion “must be punished.”

    (On the face of it, this position flows logically from the pro-life claim that “abortion is murder.” Accordingly, the worst his pro-life fellow-travelers should have been able to say of him is that he is tougher on the issue than they. But the punishment of women is the dirty little secret the more mainstream reaches of the pro-life movement don’t want aired, since they know it’s a political non-starter. They thus make the spurious claim that women who obtain abortions, however loudly they may proclaim their reproductive rights, are all just “victims” themselves — presumably of evil abortion doctors and the layabout men who impregnate them only to force abortions upon them so as to shirk their paternal responsibilities.)

    Notwithstanding his pro-life pronouncements, Trump has since stated (in an apparent effort to staunch a public backlash) that if Roe v. Wade were to be overruled by his SCOTUS appointee(s), it will be no burden on women, since the issue of abortion legality will revert to the states, and any woman seeking an abortion will still be free to get one in a state where it remains legal. (Never mind that the burden of anti-abortion laws will fall disproportionately on poor and uneducated women, for whom such interstate travel may be impracticable.)

    I have respect (although I disagree with them vehemently) for those who sincerely believe that abortion involves the taking of a human life. But for someone who cares not a whit beyond political expedience either for the life of the unborn or for the life and health of women who will be driven to back alleys if abortion is made illegal, I have none. Such a person is, to my thinking, a “sociopath.”

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 24, 2017 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

      All I’ve got to add is: Is this a great country, or what? A country where you can call a “sociopath” an actual sociopath who happens to be the head of government and of state, the most powerful person in the free world, a man who has at his disposal the awesome might of the US military and federal law enforcement — where you can ridicule his ridiculous hair, mock his tiny hands and flaccid johnson — all without fear of reprisal (so far)?

      Thank you, First Amendment.

      If we can still do the same four years hence, we’ll know we’ve got a really great country.

      • Posted January 24, 2017 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

        I suppose that it might be wise to not be too severe on sociopaths. After all, some studies have figured that 1 in 4 CEOs are psychopaths so it is possible to be a psychopath and still be functional. (All psychopath are sociopaths but the reverse is not true). I’m no psychologist but our President seems to be up there in the border between the two. After all, we are supposed to have some sympathy for the mentally ill.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted January 24, 2017 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

          That sympathy does not normally extend to putting them in charge of the asylum. 😦

          cr

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted January 24, 2017 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

          I have sympathy for the mentally ill.

          I just never wanted to have the country run by another one of ’em, after Richard Nixon.

          Trump makes Nixon seem like Pericles.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted January 25, 2017 at 3:31 am | Permalink

        Yeah, but you can do the same to the head of state in most European countries too. So it’s by no means an American prerogative.

        I suppose the question is how such a wally could ever get himself elected, but that too is not exclusive to the US of A.

        cr

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted January 25, 2017 at 7:33 am | Permalink

          Sorry, I didn’t mean to slight the European or Antipodean democracies (or our North American neighbors’, either), merely to revel in the First Amendment for a moment since, if there was ever a time we Yanks needed the right to call out our president as a sociopath, and to mock his vanities and insecurities mercilessly, it is now.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted January 25, 2017 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

            Oh, agreed, and I tried not to make my comment too pointed 😉

            Your First Amendment is extremely valuable to you, though I can’t help wondering how long it will be before President Trump gets around to repealing the entire Constitution (with the exception, doubtless, of the Second Amendment) (now that I admit was just being facetious)

            cr

  30. madscientist
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    It seems the Toupee was well briefed on what he could screw up via Executive Orders. Toupee is doing his best to turn the USA into the christian version of Afghanistan under the Taliban.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 24, 2017 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

      Regrettably, insofar as the US’s economic (aid) power has any leverage, that extends to the rest of the world too.

      cr

    • nicky
      Posted January 24, 2017 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

      When you see those seven men, just imagine some beards on them, and what do you see?

  31. Posted January 24, 2017 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    What we see here is what i expected. Republicans put something in front of him and he signs it. This activity doesn’t come from Trump, it comes from the religious right and the GOP. The Donald will do as they say or he’ll be impeached and Pence will be Pres.

  32. loren russell
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    Anyone want to guess when we have our Reichstag fire?

  33. Henry Fitzgerald
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    Does anyone else find the social media gags especially rich, coming from him?

  34. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    Jeeezus.

    I had hoped that the Drumpf might actually turn out to have a brain, once the shitfight of the campaign was over. It was obviously a futile hope.

    It just emphasises what I said before – you morons* elect this lunatic and we** – who don’t get a vote – are stuck with the shit that follows.

    * the voters of USA, collectively
    ** the rest of the world

    cr

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 24, 2017 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

      I suppose I’d better correct that gross over-simplification ‘morons’. Obviously it doesn’t apply to anyone who voted against the Drumpf.

      But – how could such an obvious flako come to occupy the most powerful position* in the world? Either a majority of voters (or as near to it as makes no difference) is massively cognitively deficient or your system is seriously broken (or both, but it must be at least one of those).

      * with quite excessive ‘executive powers’, obvously. It’s arguable whether Drumpf or Putin has more actual power to do mischief.

      cr

      • Posted January 24, 2017 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

        That’s way more than a little silly. Trump only wishes he had the power that Putin has. When is the last time you saw Vlad give a press conference? Do you think he gives a crap what the Chairman of the Duma thinks? What are the chances that a court would overturn one of Putin’s decisions?

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted January 24, 2017 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

          I put in the caveat about Putin since I’m not sure of the power structure in the USSR. But, given the US’s greater economic clout worldwide, I think the capacity for mischief might be a tie.

          After all, Kim Jong Un (or is it Il? – whichever is the latest iteration) probably has more absolute power than either, in his own little goldfish bowl, but, short of nuking somebody, his influence is almost nil.

          cr

      • Posted January 25, 2017 at 3:56 am | Permalink

        The system didn’t generate an alternative preferable to voters in enough states. Maybe this means that the system is broken. Not unique to the USA, unfortunately. And I cannot propose a way to correct this.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted January 25, 2017 at 4:12 am | Permalink

          Agreed.

          Maybe doing away with the Electoral College and imposing uniform rules on who is eligible to vote might help a little (though it would doubtless trigger knee-jerk squeals about ‘states’ rights’).

          It just seems wrong that *all* of a state’s votes should go to the candidate who achieves a small majority in that state.

          cr

          • darrelle
            Posted January 25, 2017 at 8:24 am | Permalink

            The key issue is gerrymandering. The Republican Party has focused on this for at least 20 years and has been successful beyond their wildest dreams. The Democratic Party has dabbled in it too, but their effort and success have been an order of magnitude lower.

            The Republican Party’s success at gerrymandering is what has allowed them to achieve a majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate for all but 2 of the past 20 years or more, even though this does not accurately reflect the will of the voters.

            There are other tactics the Republican Party has been utilizing as well, but gerrymandering is the elephant in the room. Make no mistake, the Republican Party has stolen power for decades, not earned it. People that accuse the Democratic Party of giving us President Trump because they were not successful enough at winning voters to overcome the advantage the Republican Party achieved for themselves via lying, cheating & stealing, with a purpose, for at least the past 20 years, have a point. It was probably too late to do anything about by election 2016, but why the fuck have they allowed the Republican Party to game the system so thoroughly over the past 20 years or more?

          • rickflick
            Posted January 25, 2017 at 10:41 am | Permalink

            I’m sure there are better ways to divide up state populations than what we are using now. THe GOP will never do it. If the dems manage to take House, Senate and WH, perhaps they could pass legislation to completely overhaul the system. Other than that, I don’t see any way the current system could be made fair.

            • Posted January 25, 2017 at 11:40 am | Permalink

              Unfortunately it seems to be one of these bootstrapping things. We have Elections Canada here which keeps the districting (riding allocation) at arms length from Parliament (though of course they can be told to introduce new ridings, etc.) It does work a *little* better; though unfortunately something like EC in the US would get all the “states rights” people up in arms – and from a legal positivist perspective, they’d be correct.

  35. W.Benson
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    Tomorrow Trump is supposed to sign an executive order barring Muslims from entering the US.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 4:14 am | Permalink

      I think he’d run slap into constitutional freedom-of-religion issues, wouldn’t he?

      cr

      • rickflick
        Posted January 25, 2017 at 10:43 am | Permalink

        But, Muslims entering the country would be non citizens. The constitution wouldn’t apply.

      • Posted January 25, 2017 at 11:53 am | Permalink

        Absolutely not. Freedom of religion protects those who are here. It doesn’t obligate the country to provide those same freedoms to people who are NOT here.

        Just because you might have that right when you get here doesn’t mean I have to allow you to get here. And I think the country ought to have some control over who we let in. Just because you’re a refugee from another country, I don’t feel any obligation to take in all of them or even any of them without getting ones that will fit in.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted January 25, 2017 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

          Oh, right. So much for your Constitution, then. So you people can do any sort of shit you like to ‘foreigners’ because they don’t have the sacred status of ‘Murican citizens.

          That stinks. (Come to think of it, most countries – including mine – do exactly the same to visitors: if you’ve just arrived and haven’t passed through Immigration you’ve got no legal rights at all. And that still stinks).

          So it looks as if The Drumpf could just ban ‘all Muslims’ (would that also include your good friends the Saudis?), stupid though it might be. Or ‘all women over the age of 30’. Or any other arbitrarily chosen group?

          cr

          • Posted January 25, 2017 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

            Why would you have rights before you are admitted to a country? This is my house and it’s not unreasonable to expect you to knock on the door before you enter. I don’t think any country has the requirement to accept anybody unless they wish to do so. What in the world are you on about?

            That said, anybody who makes it to US soil can avail themselves of every right or privilege we give to any citizen unless proscribed by law. If you are illegal you can’t vote or get many other government services but if arrested, everybody gets the same rights against testifying against yourself, a lawyer, and so forth. This, in fact, is one of the reasons presented to keep people at Gitmo because there we can deny them rights that people on US soil would get.

            The US has an imbalance of immigration and is a net inward country. The majority of countries are certainly not. We treat immigrants poorly here at first, which we have always done, but I know a lot of second generational people whom you can’t tell the difference from long term families. I like people who assimilate into the culture. Most of the issues are caused by those who actively refuse.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted January 26, 2017 at 12:41 am | Permalink

              I’m not talking about any ‘right’ to be admitted to a country – that is as you say the prerogative of the country.

              I was thinking more of the right (yes I’m calling it a right) for travellers of any kind to be treated like a person and not like a convicted criminal by customs and immigration. As you said, if you are arrested for whatever reason inside the country you have very considerable legal rights. If you fall afoul of some official in immigration/customs you seem to have no rights at all. Why not? Why shouldn’t the provisions against illegal detention and mistreatment apply in that case too?

              And by the way, since you mentioned it, Guantanamo stinks to high heaven and makes a sick joke of any American claims to moral superiority.

              cr

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted January 26, 2017 at 12:48 am | Permalink

              Just to clarify, my middle paragraph there was aimed at almost every country, not just the US.

  36. Damien McLeod
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    Fuk Trump, I wish he’d commit suicide.

    • rickflick
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      I know you mean that in the nicest possible way.

  37. C. Morano
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Trump can’t dismantle rights. He can dismantle privileges. A right isn’t violated because someone or something doesn’t subsidize it. A legitimate right doesn’t infringe on the rights of others to exist. A right can be taken away by the use of force. One does not lose the right to free speech if others don’t subsidize a radio or tv station for his/her personal use. I think everybody’s really losing it. All emotions. Reason is gone.

    • rickflick
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

      Is healthcare a right or a privilege?
      Is a healthy environment a right or a privilege?
      Is a free press a right or a privilege?

  38. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    Ok I read some more about this … the abortion-etc. thing … I’m all for it – except the nearly one-billion USD part.

    1. How are the amounts of money decided?

    2. What are the specific objectives?

    3. What other countries contribute to this?

    GW gave money to Africa to fight AIDS, and I can’t say I objected. But this one seems nebulous.

    • rickflick
      Posted January 26, 2017 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

      The idea is, family planning. Women are slaves to their biology and with this help and contraceptive support can better manage their life circumstance. Women thus become happier and can contribute to their economy in positive ways.
      In places that have given this support, health and economic standing of the society improves.

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted January 26, 2017 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

        That’s all great but why does the US have to contribute… whatever 100’s millions ?… it does? Why does it have to be with this EO, why not separate legislation? This EO appears to me to be virtue signaling by new presidents.

        To make an absurd argument, if I were president, I’d take 75% of that cash and put it in the NSF, for instance.

        • rickflick
          Posted January 27, 2017 at 2:01 am | Permalink

          The US doesn’t have to contribute. I think it’s a humanitarian impulse as well as a strategic decision.

  39. Mike
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    Heil Drumpf,the Dear Leader.

  40. Posted January 26, 2017 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    It’s been an incredibly sad week. One can only hope that we can still protect the environment and women around the world without the White House.

  41. Posted January 26, 2017 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    It appears that Trump is now calling for a 20% tax/tariff on all Mexican imports to pay for the wall. I think my business training tells me that this tax is on me and my fellow consumers and Mexico pays nothing. Thanks Donald!!


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