Friday, January 13, 2017

"I refuse to be politically correct."

It's been a big couple of weeks.

Jared Kushner was revealed to be a deeply-ensnared friend of Chinese tycoons... and then offered a high-ranking White House staff position by his father-in-law, the PEOTUS. Tracee Ellis Ross was the first black woman since 1983 to win the Emmy for Best Actress in a Comedy Series. Corey Booker became the first ever sitting U.S. senator to testify against one of his colleagues (Senator Jeff Sessions, the President-elect's nominee for Attorney General). I pared down my life to two suitcases and a computer bag, moved back to Paris, and am writing in the hours before work from my friend's pull-out couch in the Marais.

Obviously, it is Kushner, Ross, and Booker's fault that I'm a week late on posting.

This is going to be a long one. Inauguration is but a week away, and so many of Trump's promises have already been broken, kept, or simply turned against themselves by his tell-them-what-they-want-to-hear leadership style.

17. "I refuse to be politically correct."
Kept. But it's not simply political correctness that the PEOTUS rejects. It's decency. It's sympathy, civility, and so many other of the nuanced human behaviors that make possible things like problem-solving and win-win negotiation. (And here I thought Trump liked winning.)
19. “Be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”
Broken. Despite a letter from Dr. Harold Bornstein extolling the incoming president's health in undeniably Trump-esque language -- laboratory results that were "astonishingly excellent," "extraordinary" physical strength and stamina, "excellent" cardiovascular status -- his ability to keep up with outdoorsmen like John Quincy Adams and Teddy Roosevelt, or with known "exercisers-in-chief" like Gerald Ford, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, is highly questionable.
25. “I don’t settle cases. I don’t do it.”
267. Reopen Trump University.
Broken. In November, Trump agreed to pay $25 million to settle a series of fraud suits by former students of the now-defunct Trump University. "I settled the Trump University lawsuit for a small fraction of the potential award because as President I have to focus on our country," Trump tweeted shortly thereafter. Right.
87. Expand the number of H-1B visas for highly skilled workers so that more of the “talented people” who graduate from Ivy League institutions can stay in the United States and work in Silicon Valley.
88. Get rid of the H-1B visa program because it’s “very, very bad” for American workers.
Self-contradicting. Setting aside the gross implication that the only highly skilled foreign national worth keeping around is one who knows Python, these pledges remain impossibly opposed, which will lead to a major public opinion blow from the constituency he eventually lets down. These promises also play into Trump's argument that an "influx of foreign workers" is to blame for wage stagnation in low skill jobs and the disintegration of the American middle class. As discussed two weeks ago, there are far more long-standing technological reasons for these shifts, and they won't be reversed by simple economic nationalism.
178, 179, 180, 181, 182, 183. See below.
194. Ensure the country has “absolutely crystal clear and clean water” and “beautiful, immaculate air.”
Self-contradicting, given Trump's promises to:
178. Gut, if not eliminate, the "disgrace" that is the EPA.
179. Rescind all environmental executive actions signed by Obama.
180. Eliminate “intrusive” regulations, along with “any regulation that is outdated, unnecessary, bad for workers, or contrary to the national interest.” Eliminate duplication in regulations, deferring to local officials and residents. Remove the “draconian barriers” to allow energy infrastructure projects and development to proceed.
181. Eliminate the Clean Water Rule that defines the "waters of the United States" and gives added protection to tributaries that impact the health of downstream waters.
182. Scrap the Clean Power Plan, which reduces the amount of carbon pollution from power plants. Trump says this could save the country $7.2 billion per year.
183. Oppose a carbon tax on fossil fuels use that could be used to reverse damage to the environment caused by the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
265. Sue the women who have accused him of sexual misconduct or assault. “All of these liars will be sued after the election is over.”
266. Sue the New York Times for publishing accusations from women who say Trump groped them.
Broken. Granted, perhaps the President-elect will deign to focus on such matters of international importance as suing a respected newspaper for publishing a story verified by multiple sources once he's through the stress of lining up Inauguration Day musical acts. However, it doesn't look like these promises will make it past the podium; in an hours-long interview at the New York Times following the election, Trump even said of his evolving attitude towards libel laws, "I think you'll be happy. I think you'll be happy. Actually, somebody said to me on that, they said, 'You know, it's a great idea, softening up those laws, but you may get sued a lot more.' I said, 'You know, you're right, I never thought about that.' So, I, I think you'll be okay. I think you're going to be fine."
That's all for now, folks. The next time you hear from me, Donald John Trump will be President of the United States.

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