Trump Isolates Us from Allies and Militarizes the Police

Donald Trump has been on quite a tear this weekend. Friday night started with an absolute frenzy of news, as Hurricane Harvey bore down on the Texas coastal region. The Washington Post's Abby Phillip reports:
Trump, in the space of four hours, made official a ban on transgender people serving in the military, pardoned a controversial sheriff accused of racial profiling, and parted ways with polarizing aide and conservative media darling Sebastian Gorka.

The announcements were made in the evening hours as the nation focused on Hurricane Harvey, which threatened catastrophic damage to areas along the Gulf Coast, giving new meaning to the Friday night news dump strategy that has long been a staple for Washington politicians looking to bury controversial decisions.

..."As millions of people in TX and LA are prepping for the hurricane, the President is using the cover of the storm to pardon a man who violated a court's order to stop discriminating against Latinos and ban courageous transgender men and women from serving our nation's Armed Forces," Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) posted on Twitter. "So sad, so weak."
Joe Arpaio's record is so, so ugly. The Phoenix New Times, which has long covered Arpaio, published a long thread on his vile history. Trump's decision to pardon Arpaio is not only another signal to white supremacists that the president is firmly on their side, but it's a tremendous denial of justice to all the people Arpaio has harmed over decades, who desperately wanted justice.

Even after Trump pardoned Arpaio, banned transgender people from serving in the military with no clear guidelines on trans troops who are currently serving, and sent Gorka to join Bannon on the Trump propaganda team, he wasn't done. He quickly followed that by renewing his threat to scrap NAFTA: "Trump renewed his threat to scrap NAFTA and ripped on trading partners Canada and Mexico in a tweet early on Sunday, days before the three countries were scheduled to hold a second round of negotiations on rewriting the 23-year-old agreement. 'We are in the NAFTA (worst trade deal ever made) renegotiation process with Mexico & Canada. Both being very difficult, may have to terminate?' he wrote."

And he followed that with a tweet repeating "his pledge that Mexico will eventually pay for his proposed border wall, saying the barrier is needed due to Mexico's high crime rate. In response, Mexico's foreign ministry issued a statement Sunday afternoon reiterating the country's position that it will not 'in any way or under any circumstance' pay for Trump's signature border wall."

After Trump unnecessarily provoked and agitated our closest allies and trade partners, a report came out Sunda night that Trump also recently demanded "tariffs" on China: During John Kelly's first week as chief of staff, he convened an Oval Office meeting "to discuss the administration's plans to investigate China for stealing American intellectual property and technology... Trump, addressing Kelly, said, 'John, you haven't been in a trade discussion before, so I want to share with you my views. For the last six months, this same group of geniuses comes in here all the time and I tell them, 'Tariffs. I want tariffs.' And what do they do? They bring me IP. I can't put a tariff on IP." (Most in the room understood that the president can, in fact, use tariffs to combat Chinese IP theft.) 'China is laughing at us,' Trump added. 'Laughing.' Kelly responded: 'Yes sir, I understand, you want tariffs.' ...'So, John, I want you to know, this is my view. I want tariffs. And I want someone to bring me some tariffs.' Kelly replied: 'Yes sir, understood sir, I have it.'"

He is isolating the United States. From our allies and from the rest of the world. He is leaving us incredibly vulnerable, in an observable abuse dynamic. Cutting us off from friends and opportunities, while promising to be the only one who can save us.

And this morning, Sadie Gurman at the AP reports: Trump Set to Roll Back Limits on Military Gear for Police.
Donald Trump is preparing to lift restrictions on surplus military equipment that can be passed on to local law enforcement agencies in spite of past concerns that armored vehicles and other gear were escalating confrontations with protesters.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press indicate Trump was preparing to sign an executive order undoing an Obama administration directive that restricted police agencies' access to grenade launchers, bullet-proof vests, riot shields, firearms, ammunition, and other surplus military equipment.

Trump's order would fully restore the program under which "assets that would otherwise be scrapped can be repurposed to help state, local, and tribal law enforcement better protect public safety and reduce crime," according to the documents.
This is very, very bad news. In October 2014, Amnesty International released a report on police militarization which found, among other things, that: "The use of heavy-duty riot gear and military-grade weapons and equipment to police largely peaceful demonstrations intimidates protesters who are practicing their right to peaceful assembly and can actually lead to an escalation in violence. Equipping officers in a manner more appropriate for a battlefield may put them in the mindset that confrontation and conflict is inevitable rather than possible, escalating tensions between protesters and police."

I honestly cannot overstate how important this decision is. It is genuinely not hyperbole to say that, given this president's authoritarianism, it may well change the face of this nation for the foreseeable future.

Think about what it means that we're reading about Trump lifting guidelines on police militarization immediately after his pardon of Joe Arpaio. That sends a clear message. And the message is that the president is going to use the nation's police to crack down on the citizenry, and will pardon law enforcement officers who themselves break the law enforcing a new order.

And the Republican Party leadership is abetting this slide into tyranny as long as they refuse to remove this emergent tyrant.

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