I read and watch and listen to a lot of news, all day, every day. I know I shouldn’t. Or at least I shouldn’t without reflection and intention. So I’ve developed various systems for moderating (rationalizing?) my news consumption. One of those systems is to ignore the noise – to experience the Trump Administration and all its attendant gunk as a silent movie (thanks @rachelmaddow for that one). Watch what they do, not what they say. That’s technique number one.
Technique number one leads to technique number two: sorting. Sorting requires attention — it’s hard to tell amidst all the sound and fury what is real and what signifies nothing. So I have started keeping a list of real things – not that the Administration is talking about (that list would be way too long!), but that the Administration has actually taken action on:
Russia — Michael Flynn, of course, but also Administration efforts to undermine, diminish, discredit investigations. And back channeling about Ukraine apparently going on between Putin’s people and Trump’s people (I don’t know their titles or roles, of course, because they have not been vetted, approved, or even introduced to the American people):
Immigration – the Executive Orders that target Muslims and refugees, of course, but also the one that has made the new wave of deportations and detentions possible.
Judiciary – the appointment of Neil Gorsuch, of course, but also the rhetoric from the White House about the Ninth Circuit and Washington District Court Judge. Although Trump’s tweets are technically “just talk,” messaging to the American people that the Judiciary is too “political” to be credible, and that the president’s actions are “unreviewable” by the Judicial Branch rises to the level of action, in my book. https://www.thenation.com/article/the-real-danger-in-trumps-attacks-on-judges/
Functioning of Executive branch – where to start with this one? https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/02/the-perils-of-an-unstable-executive-branch/516939/ is a good wrap up, but this one is really where we need our updated charts and diagrams.
Women’s Health – Mike Pence’s appearance at the annual “March for Life,” of course, but also the signing on Day One of Trump’s presidency of an order reinstating the “Mexico City Policy.” Also known as the Global Gag Rule (GGR), this policy prohibits organizations that receive U.S. international family planning funding from engaging in any activities related to abortion. They cannot even use their own non-U.S. funds to lobby for or against abortion, speak about abortion issues, provide referrals or information on where to get a safe abortion, or provide abortion care.
Freedom of the Press – there is a lot of talk around this one. Awesome editorial in the Dallas Morning News about the recent “enemies of the American people” tweet: http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/commentary/2017/02/18/need-know-enemies-american-people-president-warned. But I’m also paying attention to what Trump and his crew are up to. Did you know, for example, that Melania Trump is using the same lawyer who drove Gawker out of business to try to shut down the Daily Mail? That seems worth watching. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/12/19/gawkers-demise-and-the-trump-era-threat-to-the-first-amendment
This list is by no means exhaustive. I know big stuff is happening in National Security too, and am trying to pay attention to that; same with the Affordable Care Act. Has the Administration actually done something on that, or is it all Congress? What else have I left out? My list is necessarily bounded by my own abilities to gather, analyze and assess information. So it is by definition incomplete. As we know, part of resistance is trying to hold power accountable; and we can’t hold accountable if we don’t know who is doing what where. So we all need to be keeping lists like this one — we all need to keep paying attention.