Charles Vignola: Trumpland, Week Two
By Charles Vignola
Monday, February 6th, 2017

We’re now rolling into Week Three of living in Trumpland, but a year’s worth of news exploded out of the White House last week.

So before we get lost in all the chaos and confusion, let’s review some of the highlights to see exactly how Trump is delivering on his promise to “Make America Great Again.”

Last Monday, acting Attorney General Sally Yates issued an official memo to the Justice Department stating her legal opinion that she didn’t believe Trump’s Muslim Ban executive order was lawful.

And since the AG is America’s “Top Cop” whose exclusive duty is to determine whether the government’s actions are legal or not – it’s her call to make.

So how does Trump respond? Exactly as he does against any official who holds him accountable: he attacks the AG, claims she has “betrayed” the DOJ for daring to do her job and give her professional assessment – and in a very Nixonian move, he promptly fires her to install a new temporary attorney general who will rubber-stamp his commands.

Imagine if President Hillary Clinton issued a new executive order. And the attorney general refused to enforce it, claiming the order was unlawful. And Hillary responded by firing the AG and replacing her with a “yes man.”

Imagine the outraged conservatives claiming that Hillary arrogantly thinks she’s above the law, and demanding that congressional Republicans launch immediate investigations. …

Yeah, none of that happened when Trump pulled the same stunt. In fact, conservatives applauded his moxie in kicking the AG to the curb for second-guessing his impeccable judgment. The double standard is astounding.

Last Wednesday, the Republican House and Senate employed a little-used congressional tool and voted to overturn Obama’s Stream Protection Rule, once again allowing coal companies to dump toxic coal dust into thousands of miles of Appalachia’s streams, tainting-working class communities’ water supplies.

But last Thursday is when the real tsunami of news hit, so many crazy things happening at once it was almost impossible to keep track of them. Fortunately for you, dear reader, I did.

Thursday started with Trump putting Iran “on notice” after it went ahead with perfectly legal missile tests, followed by imposing sanctions and ominously stating that “nothing is off the table.” A blind man could read the tea leaves that this was foreshadowing an escalating confrontation with Iran.

A leaked copy of a draft executive order revealed that Trump was considering vast new “religious liberty” laws that would roll back the civil rights of America’s LGBTQ community and officially allow corporations, businesses and people to legally discriminate against gays.

If businesses now wanted to deny service to same-sex couples or fire someone because that person had an abortion or premarital sex, as long as it was based on the religious or moral objections of business owners it’d be perfectly legal.

The return of Jim Crow-style laws founded on sexual preference would be sanctified.

Trump decided to reorganize a U.S. government program founded to counter all forms of violent ideologies, dropping ultra-right-wing white nationalist groups from the targeted list and focusing exclusively on Islamic extremists.

Apparently, Trump has a crystal ball and knows that another Oklahoma City bombing or abortion clinic shooting could never happen on his watch, so why bother to keep track of such homegrown extremists anymore?

Trump tweeted about the possibility of cutting federal funding to U.C. Berkeley after demonstrators expressed their First Amendment rights and blocked inflammatory internet troll Milo Yiannopoulos – infamous for spearheading a racist, sexist hate campaign to cyber-bully comedian Leslie Jones – from speaking on campus.

I’m sure it’s merely coincidence that Milo is a Breitbart news editor and close buddy of Steve Bannon’s, and that Trump is using his presidential muscle to encourage a purveyor of vulgar hate speech.

At his first National Prayer Breakfast, Trump vowed to repeal a Lyndon Johnson-era provision of tax law that prevents religious leaders from endorsing political candidates. Conservatives claim this law prevents religious figures from exercising their right to free speech.

In truth, it only prevents taxpayers from subsidizing political activity in churches. Churches don’t pay taxes, and staying out of politics was one of the compromises for this tax break.

Fact is, churches are perfectly free to lobby for political candidates. All they have to do is surrender their tax-exempt status so taxpayers aren’t funding their campaigning.

Finally, on Friday Trump did Wall Street’s bidding by rolling back key financial regulations of the Obama era and easing restrictions on big banks. He also killed rules instructing financial advisers to put their customers’ interests first, thus paving the way to sell more expensive financial products with higher commissions.

Who knew “Making America Great Again” would involve firing the attorney general, making it easier to pollute, threatening Iran and Berkeley, rolling back civil rights for LGBTQ Americans, allowing churches to endorse politicians and giving early Christmas presents to Wall Street?

And if you think that’s wild, wait ‘til you see what he’s got in store for Week Three.

Charlie Vignola is a former college Republican turned liberal Democrat. He lives in Fair Oaks Ranch, works in the motion picture industry and loves his wife and kids.

About the author

Charles Vignola

Charles Vignola

Charles Vignola: Trumpland, Week Two

We’re now rolling into Week Three of living in Trumpland, but a year’s worth of news exploded out of the White House last week.

So before we get lost in all the chaos and confusion, let’s review some of the highlights to see exactly how Trump is delivering on his promise to “Make America Great Again.”

Last Monday, acting Attorney General Sally Yates issued an official memo to the Justice Department stating her legal opinion that she didn’t believe Trump’s Muslim Ban executive order was lawful.

And since the AG is America’s “Top Cop” whose exclusive duty is to determine whether the government’s actions are legal or not – it’s her call to make.

So how does Trump respond? Exactly as he does against any official who holds him accountable: he attacks the AG, claims she has “betrayed” the DOJ for daring to do her job and give her professional assessment – and in a very Nixonian move, he promptly fires her to install a new temporary attorney general who will rubber-stamp his commands.

Imagine if President Hillary Clinton issued a new executive order. And the attorney general refused to enforce it, claiming the order was unlawful. And Hillary responded by firing the AG and replacing her with a “yes man.”

Imagine the outraged conservatives claiming that Hillary arrogantly thinks she’s above the law, and demanding that congressional Republicans launch immediate investigations. …

Yeah, none of that happened when Trump pulled the same stunt. In fact, conservatives applauded his moxie in kicking the AG to the curb for second-guessing his impeccable judgment. The double standard is astounding.

Last Wednesday, the Republican House and Senate employed a little-used congressional tool and voted to overturn Obama’s Stream Protection Rule, once again allowing coal companies to dump toxic coal dust into thousands of miles of Appalachia’s streams, tainting-working class communities’ water supplies.

But last Thursday is when the real tsunami of news hit, so many crazy things happening at once it was almost impossible to keep track of them. Fortunately for you, dear reader, I did.

Thursday started with Trump putting Iran “on notice” after it went ahead with perfectly legal missile tests, followed by imposing sanctions and ominously stating that “nothing is off the table.” A blind man could read the tea leaves that this was foreshadowing an escalating confrontation with Iran.

A leaked copy of a draft executive order revealed that Trump was considering vast new “religious liberty” laws that would roll back the civil rights of America’s LGBTQ community and officially allow corporations, businesses and people to legally discriminate against gays.

If businesses now wanted to deny service to same-sex couples or fire someone because that person had an abortion or premarital sex, as long as it was based on the religious or moral objections of business owners it’d be perfectly legal.

The return of Jim Crow-style laws founded on sexual preference would be sanctified.

Trump decided to reorganize a U.S. government program founded to counter all forms of violent ideologies, dropping ultra-right-wing white nationalist groups from the targeted list and focusing exclusively on Islamic extremists.

Apparently, Trump has a crystal ball and knows that another Oklahoma City bombing or abortion clinic shooting could never happen on his watch, so why bother to keep track of such homegrown extremists anymore?

Trump tweeted about the possibility of cutting federal funding to U.C. Berkeley after demonstrators expressed their First Amendment rights and blocked inflammatory internet troll Milo Yiannopoulos – infamous for spearheading a racist, sexist hate campaign to cyber-bully comedian Leslie Jones – from speaking on campus.

I’m sure it’s merely coincidence that Milo is a Breitbart news editor and close buddy of Steve Bannon’s, and that Trump is using his presidential muscle to encourage a purveyor of vulgar hate speech.

At his first National Prayer Breakfast, Trump vowed to repeal a Lyndon Johnson-era provision of tax law that prevents religious leaders from endorsing political candidates. Conservatives claim this law prevents religious figures from exercising their right to free speech.

In truth, it only prevents taxpayers from subsidizing political activity in churches. Churches don’t pay taxes, and staying out of politics was one of the compromises for this tax break.

Fact is, churches are perfectly free to lobby for political candidates. All they have to do is surrender their tax-exempt status so taxpayers aren’t funding their campaigning.

Finally, on Friday Trump did Wall Street’s bidding by rolling back key financial regulations of the Obama era and easing restrictions on big banks. He also killed rules instructing financial advisers to put their customers’ interests first, thus paving the way to sell more expensive financial products with higher commissions.

Who knew “Making America Great Again” would involve firing the attorney general, making it easier to pollute, threatening Iran and Berkeley, rolling back civil rights for LGBTQ Americans, allowing churches to endorse politicians and giving early Christmas presents to Wall Street?

And if you think that’s wild, wait ‘til you see what he’s got in store for Week Three.

Charlie Vignola is a former college Republican turned liberal Democrat. He lives in Fair Oaks Ranch, works in the motion picture industry and loves his wife and kids.