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How Much Damage to the Planet Can Trump do?

Tags: trump

Few groups were as shocked and chagrined by Donald Trump’s victory as the environmental community.   Yale Environment 360 asked environmentalists, academics, and pro-business representatives just how far Trump might roll back President Obama’s environmental initiatives.

President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to scrap U.S. involvement in the Paris climate accords, undo President Obama’s signature piece of domestic environmental legislation — the Clean Power Plan — and eviscerate the Environmental Protection Agency.   These moves would effectively decimate what Obama considers one of his greatest achievements — his efforts to slow global warming.   But are Trump’s threats just campaign rhetoric?   How far could the new president actually go in reversing the accomplishments of the Obama years?   Seven experts weigh in.

Mike Brune
Mike Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club.

Campaigning is one thing, and governing is another.  Now, Trump must choose whether he will continue to deny the climate crisis and stand completely alone in the world.   His campaign position will result in significant international blowback and massive resistance here at home from environmental and public health advocates if he refuses to face reality.  But he could also shift course now, take a different path, and support investments in the fastest-growing sector in the U.S. economy — clean energy.  In fact, those investments already have bipartisan backing.

Even as president, there are some things Trump can’t change: He can’t change the fundamental fact that clean energy is now cheaper than dirty fuels like coal, natural gas, and nuclear power all over the country. And he can’t change the fact that grassroots activists like the Sierra Club will keep fighting to retire coal plants and replace them with clean energy. We defeated most of the new coal plants proposed during the George W. Bush administration — 184 to be exact — with grassroots power, and we can and will do similar work under the Trump administration.

The markets and the American people are moving this nation beyond dirty fuels to clean energy, and Donald Trump can’t reverse that tide. And as we’ve seen this week, his position certainly will not stop the rest of the world from moving forward to safeguard our planet and seize the incredible economic benefits of clean energy.

Andy Revkin
Andy Revkin, author of the New York Times’ Dot Earth blog and a Senior Fellow for Environmental Understanding at Pace University.

I think there’s potential for significant damage, particularly on policies related to public lands, regulation, and, of course, any issue that would rise to the level of the Supreme Court.  Here’s the downside:  Given a hostile Congress, President Obama had to resort to administrative steps on climate policy, energy efficiency, and the like, which means Trump can move swiftly in some cases to undo or greatly slow certain initiatives — ranging from fuel-mileage standards to fracking rules.   But as Paul Voosen has pointed out in Science, it’s easier to do that with pending rules (fracking) than those that have already gone through review (the Clean Power Plan).

There are limits, though.  The Endangered Species Act, for instance, has remained immune to congressional meddling, although budgets can be cut.   On the grandest challenge of all, global warming, I wrote this week that the momentum for fossil fuels and the shift in the U.S. away from the worst fuel, coal, limit what any president — for or against action — can do.  Much depends on how Trump chooses to move from sound bites to real-world policies.  Indeed, some of his campaign pledges — for instance boosting both coal and natural gas production — never made sense.  More gas production will further undercut the economics of coal.  That means that much rests on the advisors he draws on.   In his acceptance speech, the president-elect said he was eager to hear from those who opposed his election.  Will he listen?   That will be the test.

Christine Harbin
Christine Harbin, director of federal affairs and strategic initiatives for Americans for Prosperity.

President-elect Trump will bring with him a starkly different vision on energy and environmental policy than his predecessor. In the spirit of "draining the swamp," the Trump-Pence administration will likely abandon the climate mitigation policies of the Obama administration in favor of energy policies that promote job creation and energy affordability and reliability.

We can expect to see in his first term a significant effort to undo overreaching environmental regulations. First on the chopping block will be the EPA's Clean Power Plan, a rule forcing states to cut carbon emissions. The president-elect was vocal on the campaign trail about repealing this harmful rule, and his running mate blocked its implementation in Indiana as governor.

The U.S. has several ways to exit the Paris agreement on climate change, and it will be interesting to see which route the President-elect chooses. Perhaps he will use executive action to withdraw or perhaps he will submit it to the Senate to die on the floor. Withdrawing from the Paris accords will be in the best interest of the U.S. because meeting its aggressive emissions targets would require extreme policy changes that would harm overall U.S. economic growth, especially in the manufacturing sector.

Carbon taxes will be off the table for the foreseeable future, too.

President-elect Trump's interest in engaging in comprehensive tax reform would also have implications on energy issues. Cleaning up the tax code would involve eliminating tax provisions benefiting special interests in renewable energy industries such as wind and solar.

Michael Gerrard
Michael Gerrard, professor and director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School, and Chair of the Faculty of Columbia’s Earth Institute.

Before the election, the world was on the precipice of not being able to fulfill the Paris climate goal of keeping global average temperature increases to between 1.5 and 2 degrees C. The Nationally Determined Contributions that almost all countries had pledged did not add up to nearly enough. The U.S. pledge centered on the Clean Power Plan; even with that, we still had a long way to go to meet the promise for 2025. Far more, still unspecified actions would be needed for the decades after that.

Trump has pledged to kill the Clean Power Plan, and he has several paths for doing so, ranging from asking the Supreme Court (which by then may include a Trump appointee) to declare it invalid, to formally rescinding it after required public notice, to simply telling the EPA not to enforce it.

Without the Clean Power Plan and the other aggressive actions that Hillary Clinton might have taken, the U.S. will surely miss its targets. Without the vigorous participation of the world’s largest economy and historically largest emitter, other countries may also slack off. The chances of meeting the Paris goal seem even more remote. We need to devote increased attention to adaptation — to coping with the increasingly severe climate changes that are going to hit us.

May Boeve
May Boeve, executive director of

We can all imagine what a climate denier heading up the EPA will do to the Clean Power Plan and anything having to do with clean air, water, and our public lands. It could be devastating, and gratefully many of our allies are already at work planning how to respond. Yet there is a deeper problem at work. We know that a society-wide mobilization is required to build the infrastructure for the renewable energy revolution. And we know that this same massive investment in the public sector can be a path out of the economic devastation that so many voters experience — many of whom saw Trump as the solution. There was an opportunity to tie the pathway out of climate catastrophe and inequality — and towards greater democracy — together. In so doing, we'd build the kind of movement we actually need to address many of our challenges at one time.

Regardless of what is included in Trump's infrastructure agenda, we can be sure that averting climate chaos and further inequality will not be the stated goals. Instead, we will encounter more corporate giveaways, more reliance on fossil fuels, and a deeply steeper path to any kind of compliance with our Paris commitments, and with the commitment to stay below 1.5 degrees C.

Bob Perciasepe
Bob Perciasepe, president of C2ES, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.

It’s too soon to tell exactly what steps the next administration will take. The rhetoric of campaigning doesn’t always match the realities of governing. We urge president-elect Trump’s transition team to take the time to hear from a broad range of perspectives on environmental and energy issues. They’ll find that a majority of Americans across the political spectrum support stronger climate action.

They’ll find that cities and states are in action because they’re already experiencing the impacts of climate change and see strong economic benefits in clean energy and transportation. They’ll find that business leaders recognize climate costs and see that the modern infrastructure and advanced technologies we need to cut emissions and strengthen climate resilience will create jobs at home and position U.S. firms to better compete in the emerging clean-energy economy.

Cities, states, and businesses are already improving energy efficiency and investing in clean energy and clean transportation. We could do far more with federal leadership, but the momentum we’ve seen will continue, because it’s driven in part by market forces. Around the world, support for climate action is stronger than ever. Virtually every country has committed to taking climate action and I expect will keep moving forward because they feel the impacts of climate change, they see the health benefits to their own citizens of reducing pollution, and they see the economic opportunities in a clean-energy transition.

Robert N. Stavins
Robert N. Stavins, Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government at Harvard University and director of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program.

In November 2012, Donald Trump tweeted that “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing noncompetitive.” Twitter messages cannot be taken as reliable signals of likely future policies, but Mr. Trump followed up during the campaign with repeated pledges to reverse all of President Obama’s actions on climate change. That includes canceling United States participation in the Paris climate agreement and abandoning the Clean Power Plan, a mainstay of the Obama administration’s approach to achieving its CO2 emissions reduction target under the Paris agreement.

So, if we take Mr. Trump at his word (a risky proposition, I admit), he will seek to pull the country out of the Paris pact. Or the administration can simply disregard America’s pledge to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 26 to 28 percent below the 2005 level by 2025. What will other key countries, including the world’s largest emitter, China, as well as India and Brazil, do if the United States reneges on its pledge? The result could be that the Paris agreement unravels, taking it from the 97 percent of global emissions currently covered by the pact to little more than the European Union’s 10 percent share.

If he lives up to his campaign rhetoric, Mr. Trump may be able to reverse course on climate change policy, increasing the threat to the planet, and in the process destroying much of the Obama legacy in this realm.

 Donald Trump looks like a disaster for the Planet.

This is happening.  Donald Trump is going to be president of the United States.

And there’s no way around it:   What he’s planning to do looks like a disaster for the planet (and the people on it).   Specifically, all the fragile progress the world has made on global warming over the past eight years is now in real danger of being blown up.

Trump has been crystal clear about his environmental plans.   Much of the media never wanted to bring it up, never wanted to ask about it in debates, never wanted to turn their addled attention away from Hillary Clinton’s email servers to discuss what a Trump presidency might mean for climate change.   But the warning signs were there:

    Trump called global warming a Chinese hoax.   He couldn’t have been blunter about this.   He also tapped Myron Ebell, an avowed climate denier, to head his EPA transition team.

    Trump has said, straight up, he wants to scrap many of the major regulations that President Obama painstakingly put in place to reduce US carbon dioxide emissions, including the Clean Power Plan.   If Trump wants to weaken or delay these rules through executive action, he can.   Even more drastically, Republicans in Congress could try to pass a law forbidding the EPA from ever regulating CO2 again.

    Trump has said he wants to scale back federal spending on clean energy, including R&D for wind, solar, nuclear power, and electric vehicles.   This would require Congress, but it’s hardly impossible.

    Finally, Trump has said he wants to pull the United States out of the Paris climate deal.  There’s nothing stopping him here.   Technically, the US can’t officially withdraw for four years, but for all practical purposes, the Trump administration could ignore it.

So what happens if Trump gets his way?  More air pollution, more carbon emissions.   Exactly how much more remains to be seen.   There are, after all, plenty of other factors pushing down US emissions that Trump has no control over.   Natural gas from fracking would continue to kill coal power.   Wind and solar would continue to grow.   But it’s nearly impossible to imagine emissions under Trump dropping at the sharp pace necessary to slow global warming.   And emissions could even rise.

Even more important, though, is the potential impact of Trump’s moves on the rest of the world.

The world was making fragile progress on global warming.   Trump could blow that up.

For the last eight years, the Obama administration has been using every regulatory lever at its disposal to push down US greenhouse gases — aiming for a 28 percent cut below 2005 levels by 2025.   Obama has also been trying to coax countries like China to participate in a global climate deal, in which every country would voluntarily pledge to restrain its emissions and meet regularly at the UN to ratchet up ambitions over time.

That plan finally came to fruition last December, when the world agreed to a sweeping climate agreement in Paris.   The Paris deal was always delicate, and the current pledges weren’t nearly enough to avoid dangerous global warming, defined as 2°C or more.   But the deal was a start.   And the hope was that by cooperating and exerting diplomatic pressure on each other, all countries would steadily ratchet up action over time.

This plan, which Clinton wanted to build upon, was far from a sure bet to succeed.   But it was arguably the most plausible and promising accord yet proposed in the history of international climate talks.

Now it’s in peril.   If Trump yanks the United States out of the Paris agreement, the deal won’t die, but momentum could wane.   One can easily imagine India deciding it doesn’t need to push nearly as hard on clean energy if the world’s richest and most powerful country doesn’t care.   At best, progress would slow.   At worst, the entire arrangement could falter, and we set out on a path for 3°C warming or more.

These are decisions that will reverberate for thousands of years and affect hundreds of millions of people.   We can’t easily undo the effects of all that extra carbon dioxide we keep putting into the air.   Without drastic reductions in emissions (or possibly risky geoengineering), global temperatures will keep rising.   The ice caps in Greenland and Antarctica will keep melting.   Once that process gets underway, we can’t reverse it.   The seas will rise.   South Florida will eventually vanish beneath the oceans. Mega droughts will become more likely in the Southwest.   For generations and generations.

This is the future of humanity at stake.   We’re at risk of departing from the stable climatic conditions that sustained civilization for thousands of years and lurching into the unknown.   The world’s poorest countries, in particular, are ill-equipped to handle this disruption.
So is there any hope things won’t actually be this bad?   Maybe?

Your vote really does matter!   Okay, now it’s time for a deep breath. 

Trump Supporters,   "It's always darkest just before it goes totally black."  John McCain.

Reasons To Hope

Even under Trump, there will still be reason for hope.   Political change unfolds in unexpected ways, and not everything on Earth revolves around the machinations of the US federal government.   So here are a few reasons to think the fight against climate change is not yet lost:

    The Trump administration could find it more difficult to roll back Obama-era climate regulations than they expected — as their efforts to rewrite EPA rules get bogged down by the courts and environmental groups skilled at litigation.   As George W. Bush found in the 2000s, it’s not always easy to scrap existing environmental protections.

    States like California and New York are still pursuing their own ambitious climate policies, and it’s possible those efforts could prove so successful that other states decide to follow suit.

    Likewise, wind power, solar power, and electric cars will keep getting cheaper — it’s possible they’ll acquire a self-sustaining momentum, even without support from the US government.   Or maybe some other new low-carbon technologies will emerge to shake up climate politics.   (Small modular reactors, anyone?)

    Climate activists will continue to push for action at local levels — much as they did during the George W. Bush years, when the Sierra Club began blocking a major planned expansion of coal power.   It’s possible that opposition to Trump will galvanize a new generation of climate activists who find creative ways to address global warming.

    Other countries still have their own reasons for tackling climate change, even China and India (which, note, is choking on deadly levels of air pollution in Delhi right now).   It’s possible that Trump’s recalcitrance on climate change could motivate the rest of the world to redouble their efforts at curtailing emissions without us.

    Heck, it’s even possible that Trump and the GOP could have a change of heart and decide that global warming is a real issue that needs to be taken seriously.   It’s possible that Republicans could balk at repealing all these pollution regulations, realizing that they’re actually quite popular.   Stranger things have happened.

So lots of stuff is possible. Climate change will continue to be a defining issue for generations, long after Donald Trump is gone — and there’s never reason to give up.   But the landscape looks very different than it did a few days ago.   The prospect of staying below 2°C looks increasingly remote.   Right now Trump has given every indication that he wants to gamble with the future of the only planet around that’s known to support life.   And it’s an irresponsible bet.

On the Other Hand

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." So wrote H.L. Mencken a century ago. In our form of democracy, though, the people often don't get what they want. But with the election of Donald Trump, that is about to change.

Among the central elements of the U.S. Constitution are checks and balances, achieved through separation of powers. The idea, James Madison wrote, is that "ambition must be made to counteract ambition."

By design, Congress is a restraint on the president. The president has tools to contain Congress. The U.S. Supreme Court, whose members are chosen by the other two branches, has the last word on what they do.

"In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men," explained Madison, "the great difficulty lies in this: You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself."

The scheme is the source of chronic frustration born of stalemate. Presidents fail to keep their promises because Congress rebels. Congress can't enact its agenda because it lacks the votes to override vetoes. And even if they can agree on what to do, their plans may die in the Supreme Court.

The beauty of a parliamentary system is efficiency. If you elect a party that promises to take some action, you can bet the action will be taken. The prospect of getting what you vote for concentrates the mind on what you really want.

Our system encourages voters to be less careful, because winning candidates often fall short of their proclaimed intentions. Barack Obama's 2009 stimulus package had to be smaller than liberal economists urged so it could pass. He got health care reform, only to see the Supreme Court invalidate significant portions. In 2008, his supporters voted for "hope and change," but the ensuing change was glacial and dispiriting.

Things will be different for President Trump. His party controls both houses of Congress, and he will get to restore the Supreme Court's Republican-appointed majority. The constitutional checks will be largely irrelevant. Trump and members of his party will be free to do what they campaigned on. Voters who didn't take their plans literally may be surprised when they come to pass.

A trade war is imminent because Trump has vowed to scrap the Trans-Pacific Partnership, signed by Obama, while threatening to levy a 45 percent tariff on Chinese goods and abandon NAFTA. Obamacare will be history. The nuclear deal with Iran is a dead letter.

Construction will start on a border wall with Mexico, and the government will step up efforts to deport undocumented immigrants. Tax cuts to boost economic growth will become law.

His supporters may cheer each achievement. But they may not be so pleased when they go to Wal-Mart or Home Depot and find that Trump's tariffs have raised the price of everything from clothing to power tools.

He tweeted that instead of Obamacare, "we will have MUCH less expensive and MUCH better health care." Some of his supporters may miss the Affordable Care Act when they lose their coverage. What will they think when they have to pay more for something they like less?

How will Trump's followers feel when Iran resumes the nuclear weapons program that Obama's deal halted — or if the United States and Israel launch a war against Iran in response?

What will they say when Mexico refuses to pay for that wall? Or when it turns out that, as an editorial in The Wall Street Journal noted, deporting all the undocumented foreigners "would demand the departure, on average, of 84 buses and 47 chartered flights every day for two years" — which isn't going to happen?

Trump can promise 4 percent annual GDP growth year in and year out, but he has no clue how to produce it. Trump supporters dismayed by the huge increase in the federal debt since 2008 should brace for an even bigger one under him.

If Trump's plans lead to failure or disaster, he and the Republican Party will own the results. And the voters who put their faith in him will have no one to blame but themselves.

They may come to understand the wisdom of Oscar Wilde. "There are only two tragedies in life," he wrote. "One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it."

Understanding Trump's Sickness
The key to understanding Trump’s thin-skin might be in understanding the seemingly conflicting ways his narcissism — anyone’s narcissism — can manifest itself.   Narcissism has two faces, it turns out.   “There are two dimensions of narcissism a lot of us write about now — grandiose and vulnerable,” wrote Joshua Miller, a personality psychologist at the University of Georgia, in an email.   Grandiose is what it sounds like:   a form of narcissism in which the narcissist puffs himself up, shouting to the world that he is a great, powerful person.   Which Trump certainly does a lot of. Vulnerable narcissism, on the other hand, is the narcissism of fragility:   What did you say about me?   As Melissa Dahl noted in her article on ‘undercover’ narcissism, George Costanza is a classic pop-culture example of how the vulnerable sort of narcissism can manifest itself:   No one would confuse Costanza for a Trump blowhard (except on those sporadic occasions when he is, say, attempting to pass himself off as marine biologist), but he is extremely sensitive to any perceived slight or threat.

Trump seems to have both qualities.   He spends a great deal of time telling everyone how fantastic he is, but then, in a manner which seems to conflict with this view, will go to great length to swat angrily at any perceived insult.   There’s a reason why, up on a debate stage in front of 80 million viewers, he brought up Rosie O’Donnell, of all people.

This is where the scientific debate comes in.   As Miller explained, researchers who study narcissism are in two camps.   Some believe that vulnerable and grandiose narcissism effectively form two scales, and that a narcissist can be anywhere on each — “so you can be low, low; low, high; high, high, etc.,”  Miller says, with regard to the two types.   In this view, there can be narcissists who are extremely grandiose but not at all thin-skinned (that is, vulnerable); narcissists who are extremely thin-skinned but not particularly grandiose (Constanza-style); and narcissists who are both (Trump).   “[O]ther narcissism researchers like Aaron Pincus and Aidan Wright believe that all pathologically narcissistic people experience both and fluctuate between these states,”  Miller explained.   Deep down, all narcissists have both grandiose and vulnerable tendencies, then, but they manifest in different ways at different times.

Miller said that he is in the dimensions rather than the fluctuations camp (my terms, not his).   And, he says, “in the case of Trump, he seems to be high on both of these dimensions.”   The other researchers Miller mentioned might conceptualize his behavior a bit differently:   All narcissists have this fragile, vulnerable side, but perhaps the stress and the endless scrutiny of the campaign have caused Trump to tend toward his vulnerable side, at least when he’s aggressively challenged, as he was by Clinton during the first debate.

Rosie O'Donnell Slams Donald Trump On Twitter
Rosie O'Donnell has reignited her feud with Donald Trump by calling him "mentally unstable" in a new tweet posted Sunday.   The former co-host of ABC's talk show "The View" also called on to the people of United States, reminding them only three weeks were left to stop Trump from taking the White House.

"Donald Trump is mentally unstable," O'Donnell wrote, while sharing a link to a CNN article, adding there are "less than 3 weeks to stop him America."

The article, which was shared by O'Donnell, was about biographer Harry Hurt III, who has been critical of Trump.  Hurt, who penned "Lost Tycoon:   The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump," told CNN that he was asked to leave the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach after introducing himself to the president-elect Friday.

Hurt said Trump's behavior was "inappropriate" after he claimed in a Facebook post that he received a "tongue lashing from the President-elect."

"Trump said, 'You were rough on me, Harry.   Really rough.   That shit you wrote,'" read the Facebook post.   "Among the juicy tidbits in Hurt’s tome was Ivana Trump’s allegation in a sworn deposition that Trump had 'raped' her during their divorce battle."

After reading the article on CNN, O'Donnell took a jab at the business mogul.

In November, O'Donnell came under fire for raising the possibility of Trump's youngest son Barron being autistic.   She later explained her comments, saying she questioned if Barron was autistic because her daughter was recently diagnosed with the condition and she recognizes the symptoms.

“Here is how it went down,”  O’Donnell wrote in a statement.   “My 3.5 year old daughter Dakota was diagnosed in September with HFA — high functioning autism.   I have been immersed in that world/reality since learning — reading — asking questions.   It’s all autism — all the time for the newly diagnosed.   As we try to grab onto anything to keep us standing, the knowledge we are not alone there are others living this too.”

She went on to write:  “But this autism subject — had nothing to do with Donald, though i admit he does trigger me in all ways — i have no ill will for his children — or any children — and if you knew anything about me — you would know that.”

Later, TMZ reported that Trump's wife Melania hired Charles Harder, who sent a letter threatening to sue over a video captioned,  “Barron Trump Autistic?  #StopTheBullying,”  which was tweeted out by O’Donnell.

Trump Is Miserable And Only Plans On Being President For 4 Days Each Week

Donald Trump never expected to win the presidential election, and is planning on being in Washington only when Congress is working, which means that he will be a part-time president who will only work 4 days a week.

Mr. Trump, a homebody who often flew several hours late at night during the campaign so he could wake up in his own bed in Trump Tower, is talking with his advisers about how many nights a week he will spend in the White House.  He has told them he would like to do what he is used to, which is spending time in New York when he can.

Now, as he prepares to assume the presidency, an open question remains about the capital he repeatedly spurned:  Just how much is he willing to become a part of it?  Mr. Trump, a homebody who often flew several hours late at night during the campaign so he could wake up in his own bed in Trump Tower, is talking with his advisers about how many nights a week he will spend in the White House.  He has told them he would like to do what he is used to, which is spending time in New York when he can.  The future first lady, Melania Trump, expects to move to Washington.  But the couple’s 10-year-old son, Barron, is midway through a school year in New York, and it is unclear when the move would happen.  The questions reflect what Mr. Trump’s advisers described as the president-elect’s coming to grips with the fact that his life is about to change radically.  They say that Mr. Trump, who was shocked when he won the election, might spend most of the week in Washington, much like members of Congress, and return to Trump Tower or his golf course in Bedminster, N.J., or his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach on weekends.

Since Congress works what amounts to a four-day a week schedule at best when they are in session, it appears that as President Donald Trump is going to follow their model and try to be a part-time president.  What Mr. Trump seems not understand is that the presidency follows the president where ever he goes.  Trump isn’t going to be able to go to New York when he pleases and stop being president.

Trump looked miserable being in Washington yesterday.  He is an older person who is set in his ways.  Donald Trump would rather be at home than running the country, and his is already displaying the attitude of a presidency that is setting itself up for failure. 

Less Than Half of Americans Think Trump Can Handle Presidential Duties

A new Gallup poll has some bad news for the incoming administration:  less than half of Americans think he can handle his presidential duties.   According to the poll, while there is a general lack of faith in Trump’s competence, “Solid majorities were confident in Obama, Bush and Clinton.”

Trump repeatedly states that he is a “smart guy” and knows things the rest of us don’t (even the experts) but Americans aren’t buying it, as we have already seen from the fact that Trump has the lowest approval rating of any president-elect.

 As Donald Trump prepares to take the presidential oath on Jan. 20, less than half of Americans are confident in his ability to handle an international crisis (46%), to use military force wisely (47%) or to prevent major scandals in his administration (44%).   At least seven in 10 Americans were confident in Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton in these areas before they took office.

Trump has denigrated both President Obama and President Clinton but fully 74 percent of Americans have confidence in President Obama compared to Trump’s 44 percent.   Comparisons across the board do not bear out his claims. Donald Trump cannot hold a candle to either man and despite attempts to take credit where none is due, he has not shown even in the business world a consistent track record of success.

This isn’t a promising prelude to a Trump presidency, or to his promise to #MAGA.   Trump is off to an all-around bad start – in fact, a start with more hiccups and hitches is difficult to imagine.   It is worrisome that even before he takes office one-third of Americans think he will be one of the worst presidents ever.

Trump has given Americans no reason to suspect he handle the job of being president of the United States. 

Trump’s Press Secretary Begs The American People To Stop Mocking Donald Trump

Trump is mocked because he isn’t getting anything done. The president-elect is taking credit for things that already happened, or the accomplishments of others. For example, Trump took credit for the good economic numbers in November despite the fact that the growing economy has nothing to do with him because he is not yet the president. Trump took credit for the horrible Carrier deal that Mike Pence negotiated, and Trump is trying to pass off the Sprint job announcement, which he had nothing to do with, as an accomplishment.”

President-elect Donald Trump’s Press Secretary was practically begging America to stop making fun of the incoming president. Trump isn’t going to find much popular support for his presidency because the majority of voters did not support him.

If Trump continues to act like a narcissistic and petty reality television star instead of a president, he is going to mocked.

One can only imagine the howls of laughter from Republicans if Obama’s press secretary would have gone on national television and complained about the American people making fun of him.

Trump isn’t even in office yet, but his team is demanding credit for things that they have not done, which is exactly why the American people will continue to mock the president-elect. 

Leading GOP Strategist Labels Trump and His Supporters Traitors
"What’s closer to treason?  Political opposition to a candidate, or siding with a hostile foreign power in the Intel war?”

These days there isn’t much that should surprise any American who remotely follows politics and it is not simply because a minority of the voting public elected an incompetent and despicable representation of humanity to occupy the White House.   What is somewhat surprising is that many of Trump’s supporters’ lovingly embrace his Russian comrade Vladimir Putin because he is a tyrant who “Christianized” Russia and hates the Russian LGBT community; it’s what most of the religious Republicans regard as a godly leader and they categorically lust for Trump to be like Vlad.   However perverted those folks are, and they are perverts, it is stunning that many congressional Republicans are very happy with Putin because he helped provide them with a rubber-stamp in the White House.

What is also surprising is the dearth of Republicans railing against Russia for attacking America and attempting to do what Putin does throughout Eastern Europe; disrupt democratic governments and threaten invasion.   Even more surprising is the loving embrace Republicans have extended to devious Don for his praise of old Vlad after knowing intimately that his BFF ordered an attack on America for the express purpose of putting a Rusky operative in the White House.   However, there are a couple of Republicans who are not enthralled by either Putin or Trump and one is a top GOP strategist who, late Friday, had some strong words about traitor Trump including implying that he and his raving mad acolytes are guilty of treason.   No doubt the strong words were in response to the Trump’s praise of Putin after President Obama levied sanctions against Russia for attacking America.

The Republican operative and strategist, Rick Wilson, took to trivial Trump’s favorite means of communication, Twitter, to rail on Trump and his puerile supporters for being “lackeys, ball washers, and toadies” whose “allegiance is to Putin;” not to America.   Apparently, what really set off Mr. Wilson’s tirade was his unwillingness to be called a traitor to America any longer simply because he was disinterested in supporting the traitor Trump.   He said, “In the course of the 2016 campaign I don’t know how many times I was called a traitor to America for not supporting Trump.”

It is noteworthy that Wilson said he was called a traitor to America for not supporting the clumsy and inept television celebrity’s candidacy; not to candidate Trump or his own beloved Republican Party.   Wilson then lashed out at Trump supporters calling them “intellectual giants [who] never bothered to understand the specific definition of treason” and yet regarded “all opposition to Trump [the candidate] was treason.”   Mr. Wilson then landed a knockout punch when he asked the reasonable rhetorical question Trump or his maladjusted devotees certainly couldn’t answer without revealing that they have no allegiance to the United States of America.   He asked,  “What’s closer to treason?   Political opposition to a candidate, or siding with a hostile foreign power in the Intel war?”

Now, it is painfully apparent that Trump and his twisted supporters, including some Republicans holding high political office, will refuse to answer Wilson’s question.   However, there are many Trump adherents among the religious right who embrace Trump based on his reverence and adoration of Putin because he designated Russia as a Christian nation and is an ardent foe of the LGBT community he enjoys hunting down and meting out punishment on.   Other Republicans, primarily those in Congress, are embracing Trump and his love-interest Vladimir Putin because they desperately want to stay in dirty Don’s good graces;  at least long enough to push through the mountains of Koch-ALEC legislation necessary to completely dismantle America.

Where it seems Mr. Wilson missed the point was his assertion that Trump’s supporters are willing to believe truly bizarre conspiracy theories proffered by Trump and his various lunatic advisors and acolytes, but they can’t grasp the reality that Trump’s Russian infatuate ordered more than one attack on America to get his puppet in the White House.   It may be the case that some of Trump’s stupidest stalwarts refuse to accept that Russia did attack America to help their hapless hero get elected, but it is seriously difficult to fathom that most Trump clones do not believe the entire American intelligence community’s conclusions.   They also cannot possibly blow off the several reports that Putin ordered an attack on this country, or the Russian deputy minister’s admission that Moscow was in constant contact with Trump’s staff throughout the campaign for the sole purpose of electing Putin’s puppet Trump as president.

The idea that a Republican operative and strategist of Mr. Wilson’s stature openly, and loudly, eviscerating Trump and his supporters at all levels as traitors is surprising.   Even Senator John McCain has stopped short of making that kind of serious accusation against Trump, and it is safe to say there is no love lost between Putin and McCain, or Trump for his adoration of the Russian tyrant.   However, at some juncture all Republicans are going to have to publicly declare if their allegiance is to the United States or Russia.  Because if they continue embracing and defending Trump, then they are not loyal to America and no matter how one parses it, disloyalty to one’s home country is being a traitor; and everyone and their pet hamster comprehends that traitors are guilty of treason.

Opinion column by R Muse

Trump’s Own Staff Admits President-Elect Is In Over His Head And Can’t Handle The Press
Trump’s own staff doesn’t believe that the man who has been elected to serve as the next President Of The United States is knowledgeable enough about the issues to answer questions from journalists.   Their lack of faith in Trump explains why the President-elect has yet to hold a press conference, and why the incoming administration is insisting that all sessions with Trump be off the record.

If the mainstream media does not push back against Trump, they are going to get steamrolled into becoming state-run media for his administration.

What should be alarming to every American is that the man who will be the next president is so unprepared that he can’t do on the record interviews.   Trump is looking more and more like a clueless figurehead of a president who is being manipulated by those beneath him.

The fact that Trump can’t handle simple questions from reporters does not bode well for his prospects of leading the most powerful country in the world.

Trump’s Presidential Credibility Is Already In Jeopardy

Donald Trump will have no credibility as president if he continues to defend Russia while attacking the US intelligence community.

Trump’s behavior could harm the credibility of the presidency itself.   Trump may not only lose credibility as an individual, but he could harm the respect for the presidency itself at home and around the world.

It is ironic that in 2000, Republican George W. Bush ran for president in part based on a promise “to restore honor and dignity” to the White House.    Seventeen years later the idea of restoring honor and dignity to the office of the president seems quaint compared to the real damage in credibility that the presidency is poised to suffer from Donald Trump occupying the Oval Office. 

 The Next President Can’t Spell And 2 More Trump Traits That Are A National Embarrassment
Not only can president-elect Donald Trump not spell, but he makes up his own facts while being obsessed with his media coverage.  All of these traits taken together form a president-elect who is a national embarrassment.

More than two centuries ago, American statesman Alexander Hamilton said,  “The first duty of society is justice.”  One can only hope that Donald J. Trump will remember those words when he assumes the presidency on Jan. 20.  The incoming president, who trailed opponent Hillary Clinton by more than 2 million popular votes, should not be too cocky about his Electoral College win, but he probably won’t be able to help himself.  Already the president-elect has shown just how petty and thin-skinned he can be toward those who question his incoming administration.

The brash and bellicose billionaire got into a battle with Broadway recently when Mike Pence, Trump’s vice presidential pick, was booed by some in the audience of the hit show “Hamilton” and was called out by cast members from the New York stage. Actor Brandon Victor Dixon read a statement of concern about the coming Trump/Pence administration that angered the president-elect and went viral online.  The actor spoke in calm, measured and respectful tones, but Trump got an itchy Twitter finger not long after Pence left the theater and many Trump supporters were aghast that a Republican politician had to hear his fellow citizens make a statement about politics following a play about politics.

Mike Pence has had a long history of opposition to gay rights and reproductive choice for this nation’s women.  The statement was one that he needed to hear:  “We, sir, are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights,” said the statement.  “We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.”

To his credit, Pence took the booing and the statement in stride and said he enjoyed the musical.  He called the audience reaction “what freedom sounds like” and said he was not offended by the words from what he called an “incredible” and “talented” cast.  His boss was not so mature and magnanimous.  The man in the Trump Tower took to Twitter to demand an apology from the cast and producers of “Hamilton.”  Trump tweeted that the incident was “rude” and that Pence had been “harassed” by the statement.   If Trump thinks the voices of citizen opponents constitute harassment, he’ll probably be busily pecking out Twitter tirades during his coming presidency.   Trump should lighten up on his wee-hour “tweets” and recognize that Mike Pence is not the only Republican politician to run into trouble in a theater.

Trump trumpeters who cry that opponents should “give Trump a chance” should ask themselves exactly how much of a chance Republicans gave President Barack Obama when he entered the White House nearly eight years ago.   Republicans on Capitol Hill closed ranks to oppose Obama’s presidency even before he walked into the Oval Office, and Trump himself led a sordid campaign of “birtherism” to besmirch and delegitimize a black president who won office twice with large margins in both the popular and electoral votes.

Trump should expect opposition when he has been endorsed by white supremacists and when he has picked such men as Pence, “alt-right” mouthpiece Steve Bannon and Alabama Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions for his upcoming administration.   Sessions was rejected for a federal judge post by the House Judiciary Committee in 1986 for his racially and politically divisive statements, even though the committee was predominantly Republican.   Now Sessions seems to be good enough for today’s Trumpian brand of Republicans.   Sessions has also gone on record as saying “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” so if he does become attorney general, look for him to drop any pretense of the GOP’s “state’s rights” doctrines in order to hound and harass the growing number of U.S. states that have legalized marijuana by the popular votes of their citizens.

If Donald Trump can’t handle a statement from an actor in a Broadway theater, he is going to be sad and angry on his inauguration day.   On Jan. 20, protesters from the ANSWER Coalition will mass along the parade route to make their voices heard after Trump and Pence are sworn in on Capitol Hill.

The next day, thousands more are expected to join the Women’s March on Washington in a walk from the Lincoln Memorial to the White House during Trump’s first full day in office.

The president-elect has made comments to distance himself from the white supremacists and other fringe types who adore him, but it was Trump himself who opened up a Pandora’s box of anger and intolerance during his caustic and callous campaign.

After throwing red meat to reactionaries for over a year, Donald Trump should not be surprised that racists, bullies and war lovers are emboldened by his rise.   Trump claims he will “make America great again” but citizens should remind him of the words of Alexander Hamilton:   “However weak our country may be, I hope that we shall never sacrifice our liberties.”

Ed Tant’s work has appeared in The New York Times, The Progressive, Astronomy Magazine and many other publications. Visit his website at

I Remember When North Carolina Was a State.

 Under Republican Rule North Carolina Is Not Classified As a Democracy

North Carolina does so poorly on the measures of legal framework and voter registration that it ranks alongside Iran and is not classified as a democracy.

Although it was never really a true democracy, at least over the decades it appeared that America was on its way to being a government of  and by the people.  However, des

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