Trump’s Triple Threat

Those who voted for Trump know that none of this nonsense helps to make America great again.

Yesterday, I observed that those who chose Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton know damn well that they made a mistake, even if they’ll never publicly admit it. Today we learn more about the consequences of that mistake:

  • Trump’s TSA is conducting surveillance on law-abiding citizens. The Boston Globe reports:

    Federal air marshals have begun following ordinary US citizens not suspected of a crime or on any terrorist watch list and collecting extensive information about their movements and behavior under a new domestic surveillance program that is drawing criticism from within the agency.

    The previously undisclosed program, called “Quiet Skies,” specifically targets travelers who “are not under investigation by any agency and are not in the Terrorist Screening Data Base,” according to a Transportation Security Administration bulletin in March.

    The internal bulletin describes the program’s goal as thwarting threats to commercial aircraft “posed by unknown or partially known terrorists,” and gives the agency broad discretion over which air travelers to focus on and how closely they are tracked.

    But some air marshals, in interviews and internal communications shared with the Globe, say the program has them tasked with shadowing travelers who appear to pose no real threat — a businesswoman who happened to have traveled through a Mideast hot spot, in one case; a Southwest Airlines flight attendant, in another; a fellow federal law enforcement officer, in a third.

    It is a time-consuming and costly assignment, they say, which saps their ability to do more vital law enforcement work.

    This is what the Trumpistas had in mind when they voted for Trump based on “law and order,” right?

  • Trump repeats his call for a government shutdown over his wall. The actions of a stable genius, I’m sure:

    President Trump threatened Sunday to shut down the federal government this fall if Congress does not pass sweeping changes to immigration laws, including appropriating more public money to build his long-promised border wall.

    “I would be willing to ‘shut down’ government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall!” Trump tweeted. “Must get rid of Lottery, Catch & Release etc. and finally go to system of Immigration based on MERIT! We need great people coming into our Country!”

    Trump’s shutdown warning — which he has made before — escalates the stakes ahead of a Sept. 30 government funding deadline, raising the possibility of a political showdown before the Nov. 6 midterm elections that Republican congressional leaders had hoped to avoid. A funding fight also could prove a distraction from Republican efforts in the Senate to confirm Trump Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh by Oct. 1.

    Trump faced immediate words of caution from top Republicans, including Rep. Steve Stivers (Ohio), who leads the National Republican Congressional Committee, which coordinates campaign efforts for House Republican candidates.

    “I don’t think we’re going to shut down the government. You know, I think we’re going to make sure we keep the government open, but we’re going to get better policies on immigration,” Stivers said on ABC News’s “This Week.”

    Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, told CBS News’s “Face the Nation” that he supports the president’s effort to pass conservative immigration policies but disagreed with his brinkmanship.

    “I don’t like playing shutdown politics. I don’t think it’d be helpful, so let’s try to avoid it,” Johnson said.

    Knowing these gutless wonders, I’d put the odds at about 80 percent that there will in fact be a government shutdown. Trump probably figures that Republican voter-suppression efforts will be enough to protect the GOP’s House and Senate majority anyway, so why not push it to the limit?

  • Trump intensifies his hostility towards the press. If a dictator of a developing nation attempted to intimidate a newspaper publisher personally, we’d call that dictator a despot. What happens when the President of the United States apparently tries to do the same thing?

    President Trump on Sunday disclosed details of a private meeting he had with the publisher of The New York Times, A. G. Sulzberger, and Mr. Sulzberger flatly disputed the president’s characterization of an exchange they had about threats to journalism.

    Mr. Trump said on Twitter that he and Mr. Sulzberger had discussed “the vast amounts of Fake News being put out by the media & how that Fake News has morphed into phrase, ‘Enemy of the People.’ Sad!”

    In a five-paragraph statement issued two hours after the tweet, Mr. Sulzberger said he had accepted Mr. Trump’s invitation for the July 20 meeting mainly to raise his concerns about his “deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric.”

    “I told the president directly that I thought that his language was not just divisive but increasingly dangerous,” said Mr. Sulzberger, who became publisher of The Times on Jan. 1.

    “I told him that although the phrase ‘fake news’ is untrue and harmful, I am far more concerned about his labeling journalists ‘the enemy of the people,’” Mr. Sulzberger continued. “I warned that this inflammatory language is contributing to a rise in threats against journalists and will lead to violence.”

    This is particularly true overseas, Mr. Sulzberger said, where governments are using Mr. Trump’s words as a pretext to crack down on journalists. He said he warned the president that his attacks were “putting lives at risk” and “undermining the democratic ideals of our nation.”

    Mr. Trump, in his tweet, described the meeting with Mr. Sulzberger as “very good and interesting.” But in referring to the phrase “enemy of the people,” he did not make clear that he himself began using that label about the press during his first year in office.

Those who voted for Trump know that none of this nonsense helps to make America great again. False pride will prevent them from ever acknowledging that they goofed up on November 8, 2016–but the rest of the country can sense their shame. The only question that remains is this: of the 62 million who voted for Trump in 2016, how many will try to atone for their actions on November 6, 2018 and November 3, 2020?

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.