Friday, January 20, 2017


It was obvious that Donald Trump was going to do something provocative just after being sworn in as president, but didn't you think his provocation would be a bit less ... verbal? Here's a guy who could have whomped us with a couple dozen executive orders, all of which would have the force of law, but instead his big provocation was this:
As Donald Trump was sworn in Friday, the White House website got a major makeover. One of the casualties in the reset: any mention of the need to fight climate change.

The original White House page dedicated to the problem of climate change and former President Barack Obama's policies to address it is now a broken link: "The requested page '/energy/climate-change' could not be found."

Instead, the White House website features Trump's energy talking points from the campaign. The page -- titled, "An America First Energy Plan" -- makes no mention of climate change, other than to say, "President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the US rule. Lifting these restrictions will greatly help American workers, increasing wages by more than $30 billion over the next 7 years."

.... Here's the new page....
Also this:
The moment Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States at noon on Friday, the LGBT, ... health care, and civil liberties pages disappeared from the website of the brand new Trump White House.

... the changes occurred at noon, when the Obama administration turned over the official White House website,, to the Trump team.

The White House’s official LGBT page,, now either redirects to a splash page encouraging visitors to sign up for updates from President Trump, or displays as a broken link stating: “The requested page ‘/lgbt’ could not be found.”
And this:
The new White House website went live following Donald Trump’s inauguration Friday, and it contained a bracing message implicitly directed to supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement: Your kind is not welcome in Trump's America.

“The Trump Administration will be a law and order administration,” reads a page on the website titled "Standing Up for Our Law Enforcement Community." It continues: “President Trump will honor our men and women in uniform and will support their mission of protecting the public. The dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is wrong. The Trump Administration will end it.”

In case it wasn’t clear who and what the Trump administration blames for this “anti-police atmosphere,” the website clarified: “Our job is not to make life more comfortable for the rioter, the looter, or the violent disrupter.”
This is disturbing -- but so far it's just words, not deeds. I expected more from the big tough guy.

To me this reeks of Steve Bannon, who probably thinks even laws are less important than trying to seize control of "the culture," which is pretty much what you'd expect Andrew Breitbart's successor to think.

As for why Trump didn't come roaring out of the gate with provocative deeds, I question whether he actually knows where he stands on many issues -- he knows that on every issue he agrees with somebody he's seen on Fox, but sometimes they disagree. What's a president to do?

I also think the establishmentarians in the battle for Trump's brain are trying to steer him away from Buchananite populism and toward traditional Kochite Republicanism. This Politico story sees a battle with, on one side, Bannon and another bomb-thrower, adviser and speechwriter Stephen Miller, and, on the other, establishmentarians Reince Priebus and Mike Pence:
Two senior transition officials said the “two Steves” have pushed for Trump to use a “shock and awe” strategy of issued multiple executive orders on Day One, but lost out to other factions pushing for meting out a “drip drip drip” of executive actions almost daily over the first month.

Priebus and Pence represent the Washington GOP establishment, pushing for discipline and traditional conservatism in the new administration. “It’s going to be a combination of Reince and Pence’s job to figure out the policy pieces that fit,” said a senior Trump adviser, “and Bannon and Miller making sure the campaign’s promises are in the bills.”
This feels like a stall tactic to prevent Trump from doing anything that would deviate greatly from traditional Kochism.

And on another subject, there's been some violence in anti-Trump protests in D.C. today. Why isn't Trump grandstanding? As a New Yorker, I can tell you that if Rudy Giuliani had just been inaugurated today and this were happening, he'd be before the cameras threatening to rain unshirted hell down on the non-peaceful activists, and it wouldn't matter how many inaugural balls he was scheduled to attend. What's up, Donnie? Maybe you'll threaten to send them to Gitmo tomorrow, but why aren't you pouncing on this today? I thought you were a tough guy.


UPDATE: Apparently I spoke too soon, though this is somewhat murky:
President Trump signed an executive order late Friday giving federal agencies broad powers to unwind regulations created under the Affordable Care Act, which might include enforcement of the penalty for people who fail to carry the health insurance that the law requires of most Americans.

The executive order, signed in the Oval Office as one of the new president’s first actions, directs agencies to grant relief to all constituencies affected by the sprawling 2010 health-care law: consumers, insurers, hospitals, doctors, pharmaceutical companies, states and others. It does not describe specific federal rules to be softened or lifted, but it appears to give room for agencies to eliminate an array of ACA taxes and requirements.

However, some of these are embedded in the law, so it is unclear what latitude the executive branch will have....

“Potentially the biggest effect of this order could be widespread waivers from the individual mandate, which would likely create chaos in the individual insurance market,” said Larry Levitt, senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation. In addition, he said, the order suggests that insurers may have new flexibility on the benefits they must provide.

“This doesn’t grant any new powers to federal agencies, but it sends a clear signal that they should use whatever authority they have to scale back regulations and penalties. The Trump administration is looking to unwind the ACA, not necessarily waiting for Congress,” Levitt said.
Also late Friday, Reince Priebus, Trump’s chief of staff, issued an executive memorandum ordering a freeze on regulations for all government agencies.
As I noted in the previous post, Kellyanne Conway said the administration's early focus would be on Obamacare, regulations, and taxes. So the next thing will be, I suppose, the beginning of an effort to wipe out a lot of taxes affected businesses and the rich, disguised as a tax cut for everybody (or maybe everybody other than the poor -- they need to have "skin in the game," don't you know). Stay tuned.


UPDATE: Vox's Sarah Kliff notes that the Obamacare executive order, as written, signals an intent to dismantle the law, but doesn't claim a right on Trump's part to just unilaterally declare provisions of the law null and void. Small comfort, I guess, but it's something.


opit said...

Oddly enough, I get much more of an impression of restraint than seems to be coming out of coverage. Censure of executive orders processed by Obama speaks more of measured disapproval than impulsive action.

Unknown said...

As far as I can see, the violence is anarchic. It seems unmotivated by the ideology or the politics embraced by either Congress or the New White House. All of which leads me to think that there is a better than even chance that it is part of ratfucking operation. What better way to throw shade on intelligent, peaceful, motivated protests?

Fiddlin Bill said...

Well, fascism meets fascism isn't exactly the same as anarchic, is it?

rclz said...

The dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is wrong. The Trump Administration will end it.”

How does the president end and atmosphere? Is he going to wave some fairy dust and make it all better or just give the police more storm trooper powers?

Anonymous said...

I don't know about measured disapproval, but doing something talked of and promised for months hardly qualifies as impulsive.

Agents provocateur, Lars. The world's second oldest profession. Not bullies, not the alphas... the weasel dog punks that roll over and offer up their butts to the bullies.

Where can I get some of that magic dust?
Ten Bears