Corruption and Malice: A Day in the Trump Presidency

[Content Note: Nativism; abuse of immigrant children.]

Every day, there are new reports of Donald Trump's personal corruption and malice, as well as the corruption and malice he oversees emanating from all quarters of his administration in every conceivable direction.

It's frightening how much damage he has done in just over two years. There has been such significant erosion to our democracy, to our institutions, to our culture — and so quickly that it can be difficult to see, to process.

Each day is such an onslaught that it can be overwhelming to the point that it's tempting to become inured to it, in a desperate bid for relief.

Not normal has become the new normal.

But it is not okay. None of this is okay. Some days, the news reminds us so pointedly that none of this is okay.

Today is one of those days. Trump's corruption and malice, his marching authoritarianism, his thundering inhumanity are aggressively present in every headline.

Corruption. David Enrich at the New York Times: A Mar-a-Lago Weekend and an Act of God: Trump's History with Deutsche Bank. "Deutsche Bank had a ravenous appetite for risk and limited concern about its clients' reputations. Time after time, with the support of two different chief executives, the bank handed money — a total of well over $2 billion — to a man whom nearly all other banks had deemed untouchable. ...Over the next few years, the commercial real estate group, with [Justin Kennedy, the son of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy] now in a senior role, kept lending to Mr. Trump, including to buy the General Motors building in Manhattan. Occasionally, Justice Kennedy stopped by Deutsche Bank's offices to say hello to the team, executives recalled."

Malice. Aura Bogado and Patrick Michels at Reveal: U.S. Government Uses Several Clandestine Shelters to Detain Immigrant Children. "The federal government is relying on secret shelters to hold unaccompanied minors, in possible violation of the long-standing rules for the care of immigrant children, a Reveal investigation has found. The Office of Refugee Resettlement, the government agency that cares for unaccompanied minors, has never made the shelters' existence public or even disclosed them to the minors' own attorneys in a landmark class-action case. It remains unclear how many total sites are under operation, but there are at least five in Arkansas, Florida, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, holding at least 16 boys and girls for the refugee agency, some as young as 9 years old."

Authoritarianism. Anita Kumar at Politico: Trump Officials Prepared to Stonewall Democratic Oversight Demands. "In their early response to an onslaught of Democratic requests, Trump officials are breaking from norms set by previous administrations of both parties, according to people who worked in the White House or Capitol Hill during the presidencies of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. Over the last two months, Trump's intent has become clear: He doesn't plan to negotiate with Congress over their demands for information and witnesses the way his predecessors did. Instead, House Democrats are going to have to fight him for everything."

All of the above. Ryan Bort at Rolling Stone: Let's Try to Make Sense of Trump's 50-Tweet Bender.
Trump tweeted 50 times over the weekend, posting 20 times on Saturday, and 30 times on Sunday. Between his first tweets on Saturday morning (clips of Lou Dobbs interviewing Diamond & Silk and a former ICE director) and his last on Sunday night ("MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!"), Trump took his followers on a whirlwind tour of his feverish obsession with himself and the media.

He praised his own accomplishments, mostly his Friday veto of a congressional resolution terminating his national emergency declaration, and those touting his resolve on cable news. At the same time, he railed against Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, a Saturday Night Live rerun and the Radical Left Democrats, whom he accused of attempting to rig the 2016 election. On Sunday night, he retweeted a string of conspiracy theorists, capping an unhinged, two-day Twitter bender that would have been concerning if it came from your uncle, much less the president of the United States.

..."The Radical Left Democrats, working closely with their beloved partner, the Fake News Media, is using every trick in the book to SILENCE a majority of our Country."

To drive his point home, Trump deployed what is essentially his mantra in life. "The losers all want what you have, don't give it to them," he added. "Be strong & prosper, be weak & die!"

As I wrote recently: How the hell most of this country is just going along every day as if everything is basically normal, and Trump is just a really bad president but still within the realm of legitimate presidents, is beyond me. It really is.

Any one of the above items would be a scandal in any other presidency. But Trump's indecency is so colossal, so unfathomable, so relentless that we barely have time to contemplate one horror before the next dozen appear, threatening to crush our capacity to even understand all that is wrong, no less effectively resist all of it.

And the truth is that there is precious little we can do about it, on an individual level. The Republican Party and their nefarious allies have been laying the groundwork for this nightmare for a very long time. There are global forces complicating domestic rescue efforts: As I have repeatedly observed about the rise of Donald Trump and associated anti-democratic and nativist sentiments, it's all situated within a larger global context, where fascism, in various incarnations, is on the rise around the world — which is part of what's going to make restoring our democracy so incredibly difficult, much more so than just getting rid of Trump himself. And far too few people see or understand or accept that this is where we are.

But what I want to do, and will keep doing, is validating your feelings about how fucked up all of this is. In an age of official and endemic gaslighting, the one thing I can do is tell you: You are right about how terrible shit is. This is happening. And it monumentally sucks.

Let us be angry, and afraid, and whatever else we need to be together. Chiefly, let us not pretend that this isn't real.

We have a president who is very corrupt, and very cruel, and very dangerous. And sometimes the cost of shoving down our feelings about that just to survive is too great to bear, so we need to be able to take it out and examine it and stare at it.

It's okay to not feel like everything will be okay. Remember who you were before he came around. Remember who you are. Have your feelings about it.

When I am low, like I was after reading the news this morning, I remind myself: He can change a lot of things, but he cannot change me.

I am rageful about Donald Trump, and I resist.

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