February 21, 2017… Day 33
Radio alarm: Praise for General McMaster from all directions. NPR is on the chopping block, so I’ll enjoy my Morning Edition while I can.
Tuesday morning. NBC says Trump has a perfect chance, right now, for a reset. Asks, “Can Trump enjoy a no-drama week?”
Trump visits the Smithsonian Museum of African American History this morning. While there, he tells the press that the recent anti-Semitism has been “horrible” and “painful” and is “going to stop.”
The Anne Frank Center was not amused. They called it a bandaid on the cancer of rising anti-Semitism. Proving they are as good with words as their namesake, they also said “Do not make us Jews settle for crumbs of condescension.” Sean Spicer said in his White House press briefing, that Trump has constantly condemned anti-Semitism, and that he, Spicer, wished that the Anne Frank Center had praised Trump for his leadership on this issue.
Muslims and Jews in the U.S. are continuing their public overtures of kinship. Muslims quickly raised some money to help with the Jewish cemetery in St. Lousi that was vandalized.
President Trump tweets that the angry people at Republican town halls are just “liberal protesters.” Republican congressman Justin Amash tweets back “They are our fellow Americans with legitimate concerns. We need to stop acting so fragile.”
On the radio, local former EPA employees tell KUOW they don’t have high hopes for Scott Pruitt’s reign at the agency.A couple hours later, Scott Pruitt greets EPA employees for the first time. I haven’t heard whether the 3,000 pages of emails between him and the oil & gas industry came out today as expected. In his address to the EPA he comes across as super friendly, folksy, and decent. Like other of Trump’s cabinet picks, he has none of the bombast of Trump. He knows how to dial it down, seem like a normal person, and seem humble. He starts off by quoting Paul Harvey.Then he says that we are living in a “toxic environment” (pun not intended?) and that everyone puts on their “political jerseys.” So apparently, he’s going to address how hated he is coming into the job. He says “general principles of civility, finding answers, listening to each other… I think these are things we should keep in mind.” Then he says, “regulations should keep things regular,” and “process matters.” It is now clear that he is centering everything on “those who are regulated” (a phrase he uses multiple times), and not what is being protected (a word he does not use). He says “We should avoid abuses that occur sometimes,” and he’s talking about regulations, not pollution. He says “federalism matters.” Then he drives it home that his guiding principles are “federalism, process, and rule of law.” Yikes, buddy. Then he goes out with a John Muir quote (“people need beauty as well as bread” — still missing the point that the environment is worth protecting for its own sake). his final words are “I look forward to serving you in the future,” and now his niceness just seems sinister.
People are widely spooked by new DHS rules about rounding up immigrants and deporting them.ICE force will triple, Local police will be deputized, and people can be sent back to Mexico right away, and then later be formally deported by videoconference. When asked about it, Sean Spicer makes a shackle sandwich. He talks about ICE having formerly had “their hands cuffed behind their back” when it came to dealing with illegal immigrants. Then he talks about Trump visiting the slavery part of the African-American museum. Then quite soon after that, he talks about ICE being “in shackles” before this latest executive order.
At one of my community organizing meetings, I brought up the topic of Seattle as a sanctuary city–and that maybe Seattle’s sense of itself as a sanctuary needed to be actively strengthened and reinforced. As a bulwark to whatever shifting political and fiscal winds are ahead. An older woman who retired from the King County sheriff’s office pooh-poohed me. She said I had no idea the levels of bureaucracy involved. She said there was no way, logistically or culturally, the local law enforcement would cooperate. She said there was no way the feds could make that happen. I just said “Thanks! I’m glad there’s something I can move lower on my list of things to freak out about!” And I meant it. A little bit later, she moved away from where I was sitting. As soon as she left, an elderly Japanese-American woman turned to me and said “Do you think neighbors will turn on neighbors?” That white woman hadn’t reassured her.
I’m not sure, but I don’t think Glenn Thrush of the New York Times got a question at the briefing. Spicer shut him down pretty hard, choosing to take another follow-up from the tough Haley Jackson instead of letting Glenn speak. He passed it off as chivalry to Haley, but everyone in the room probably had flashbacks of Melissa McCarthy grabbing a super soaker.
“One of the beauties of history is that we don’t repeat itself”
— Sean Spicer, February 21, 2017
On NBC: As a reporter asked Pence yesterday at a NATO news conference, “You’ve given your assurances today here in Brussels to European leaders that the U.S. is committed to working with Europe. President Trump says very different things. He has said that the EU is a vehicle for Germany, that the UK was smart to get out of the expected other countries to follow. Who should European leaders listen to, you or President Trump?” Pence’s answer: “The United States is expressing strong support for NATO even as we challenge NATO and challenge our allies to evolve to the new and widening challenges. And further meet their responsibilities.” But can you express strong support when an administration is saying different things?
On Saturday, the New York Times had a story about Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, meeting with a foreign Putin-friendly politician and then delivering a sealed envelope to Michael Flynn personally. The Washington Post had a follow up story the next day. Both papers talked to Michael Cohen but he changed his story between the two articles. Rachel Maddow asked last night whether Jeff Sessions would follow through with the U.S. DOJ efforts to extradite a Ukrainian oligarch who is Paul Manafort’s business partner. Today a court in Vienna ruled that he could be extradited from Austria to the U.S. Now all eyes are on Jeff Sessions, who will not recuse himself from investigations into the Trump campaign and/or administration.
Sweet, civil moment between strangers in the middle of a conservative vs. liberal argument on a Trump Facebook comment thread:
White House press briefing without Sean Spicer: