A great American once had the courage to face down Sen. Joe McCarthy in a Senate hearing in an immortal exchange, of which this is an excerpt:
You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?
… If it were in my power to forgive you for your reckless cruelty, I would do so. I like to think I’m a gentle man, but your forgiveness will have to come from someone other than me.
We have been watching a horror show of Trump indecencies. Each day brings yet another one worse than the day before. I fear before long we may become inured to it. Which only plays into Trump’s hands, I’m afraid.
At the risk of adding to your Trump fatigue, these are a few of the beauts Trump’s feted us with in recent days:
Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and a Bad Case of Amnesia
The President seems to have a hard time expressing empathy for anyone who isn’t either a member of the white corporate élite or someone who voted for him. For example, he still hasn’t acknowledged that 6-million Jews died in the Holocaust. Nor could he work up a sweat about the scores of threats made against Jewish community centers. Though he has told us he hasn’t an anti-Semitic bone in his body. At least that sentiment was eventually pried out of him with a crowbar.
Regarding American Muslims, I fear they will never hear a word of sympathy. When a Trump admirer murdered six worshippers at a Quebec mosque, not a word from Mr. Trump. When a mosque was burned to the ground in Texas, not a word from Mr. Trump. A fund established to rebuild quickly raised nearly $900,000. Trump, famously stingy when it comes to donating his own money to charity, didn’t contribute a dime. When an arson fire burned down a Tampa mosque a few days ago: radio silence from the White House.
Bringing Back American Jobs
Most of us know that virtually every word out of the President’s mouth is either a lie or based on stupidity or ignorance. Yet another example: one of the hallmarks of his campaign was his “laser focus” on bringing American jobs back home. Never mind the faulty economics behind the theory that you can rebuild manufacturing industries that long ago left for better climes.
Let’s examine the hypocrisy of Trump’s agenda. How can an entrepreneur whose entire reputation is built on licensing his name abroad–slapping it on pleasure palaces for his fellow corrupt billionaires–talk about saving American jobs. First, Trump himself doesn’t employ any American workers. He doesn’t even employ many foreign workers. He doesn’t produce anything. He’s a marketer. He parlays his name into cash. Any jobs created by building projects in which his name is involved aren’t created by him. They’re created by the local developers who pour their own capital into these projects.
Do as I Say, Not as I Do
Donald Trump is mad as hell at the fake news media. Everyone knows that. But one aspect of reporting that particularly incenses him is the use of anonymous sources:
“They shouldn’t be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody’s name,’ Trump told an enthusiastic crowd of conservatives at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference gathering outside Washington, D.C.
“I want you all to know we are fighting the fake news. Phoney. Fake,” he said to roars of approval.
“I called the fake news the enemy of the people, and they are…because they have no sources; they just make them up when there are none. They make up sources,” the president said.
“And they shouldn’t use ‘sources’,” he said, adding they should be required to put the names of everyone to whom they speak into their reports. The end result, he explained, “you will see stories dry up like you’ve never been before.”
As usual, Trump obscures a legitimate critique of journalism with piles of horse manure. There are news outlets (Israeli media, are you reading this?) that use anonymous sources routinely, even when it’s easy for the reader to guess who they are. But on the other hand, there are many legitimate reasons to use such sources: primary of which is to protect the safety or job of a credible source.
Trump’s special brand of hypocrisy encompasses so many ironies at once: first, Trump himself uses anonymous sources. Actually, he makes statements with no sources at all, not even anonymous ones. But one of my favorite Trumpisms is “John Miller,” a fictitious character who would call local New York reporters with bits of gossip that flattered, you guessed it, Donald Trump. I suppose “John Miller” isn’t really an anonymous source. He’s a source with a name, even if it is fake.
What’s Good for the Goose Isn’t Necessarily Good for the Gander–if It’s Donald Trump
Trump has railed at the U.S. intelligence community, specially the NSA and CIA, for eavesdropping on conversations by his own political operatives with Russian agents. He’s called for a criminal investigation into the matter. Of course, attempting to divert attention from the potentially criminal behavior of his flunkies who collaborated with the Russians to smear Trump’s opponent and fix an election.
But there are several problems with his approach: first, it isn’t illegal for the NSA to eavesdrop on the conversations of foreigners. The USA Patriot Act and FISA Court have legalized such activity. I don’t recall Trump complaining about the Patriot Act during the Bush administration when many of us were doing so loudly. So Trump has no problems with invading the privacy of U.S. citizens communicating with foreigners…until it’s his own political apparatchiks who’re doing the communicating. If this doesn’t scream hypocrisy…
Hey, the Israelis Do It!
Department of Homeland Security chief John Kelly said his agency was contemplating an executive order which would demand that potential immigrants not only identify their social media accounts (along with handles), but offer their passwords too. When I heard this it immediately recalled the same protocols followed by Shabak agents at Israeli airports who routinely demand e-mail and social media passwords of travelers they suspect of being security risks (or travelers they are seeking to refuse entry). Sometimes they’re far less delicate and put a bullet in your computer just to be sure it’s safe for you to bring it into Israel. No word yet whether this approach will be approved for DHS staff.
We have a wee little thing called the Fourth Amendment which protects us from “unreasonable search and seizure.” Though there is a fairly low bar when it comes to overseeing border crossings and the decision to admit people into this country, I strongly doubt this will withstand judicial scrutiny if Kelly is dumb enough to get it into an executive order.
I’ve written often here about the noxious practice of importing Israeli security practices into U.S. security procedures. From killer drones to targeted assassinations, to racial profiling: all of these practices were pioneered by Israeli security and then oozed their way into American security protocols. It only takes one look at the mess that Israel has made of its own security situation to understand how bad these practices are for America. But with Pres. Trump, we can certainly expect to see the adoption of some of the worst of these Israeli procedures.