And now, things that are Really Happening in the world of Donald Trump.
We bring you this list as a public service. It’s easy to be distracted by all the strange/contradictory/awful things the president says. For instance, a lot of people were stunned when he responded to a question about anti-Semitic attacks in the United States by citing his winning numbers in the Electoral College. Then, the question came up again and he yelled at the reporter who asked it.
Much, much later, Trump did read a statement denouncing racism and anti-Semitism. But even that seemed … worrisome. It’s not just that an elected official should know how to answer that question without a lot of prep work. Everybody should know how to answer that question. Your 3-year-old nephew. Your Uber driver. Uncle Fred who gets drunk at Thanksgiving. Nobody gets to ask for a script.
Maybe he keeps talking crazy to divert attention from the fact that he doesn’t have anything else to report. In Washington, outside of the ongoing disaster that is immigration policy, actual changes have been sparse. A lot of the departments don’t have new staffs yet — and some never will if Trump keeps insisting on only hiring people who never said anything negative about him during the campaign.
However, some little gremlins have been busy on the government websites, clearing out unpleasant information on issues such as climate change. The Department of Agriculture has taken down its list of violators of the Animal Welfare Act, including “puppy mills” rife with dangerous and unsanitary conditions.
But if you’ve got a Republican member of Congress, be sure to go to the next town meeting and yell, “What about the puppies?”
The justification for that one seemed to involve concern that the list violated the privacy of people who are terrible to little dogs. It’s hard to say for sure, since no one is picking up the phone at the headless Department of Agriculture. But if you’ve got a Republican member of Congress, be sure to go to the next town meeting and yell, “What about the puppies?”
Trump, who likes to be thought of as a decider, showed his stuff this week, resolving a dispute between two of his top appointees. It was a surprising development — who knew there were enough Cabinet members in place for a fight? The battle featured Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in an argument over transgender rights.
Sessions, in one of his very first moves on the job, had decided to reverse a federal guideline that public schools should let transgender students use the bathroom of their choice. DeVos — who knew she had it in her? — objected. Trump sided with Sessions, taking what appeared to be the opposite position from the one he espoused during the campaign.
The president, it turns out, is more conservative on social issues than the guy who was running in all those primaries against Ted Cruz. Now, with virtually nothing to lose, he’s gotten worse. Wow.
This gets depressing really fast. No wonder we’re looking for distractions. Everything weird going on in the world seems to have a Trump connection. For instance, there’s that assassination story involving the North Korean dictator — the guy who has, um, a really strange hairdo. His estranged half brother was mysteriously murdered in a bizarre assault. One of the women arrested claimed she believed the whole thing was a segment of a TV reality show. Just saying.
Congress, meanwhile, has just been sort of wandering around, trying to avoid thinking about health care or schedule any town meetings.
Congress, meanwhile, has just been sort of wandering around, trying to avoid thinking about health care or schedule any town meetings. Repealing Obama-era regulations is just about the only thing getting accomplished:
▪ Guns: Last week, our lawmakers took a very strong stance protecting the right of Americans to purchase guns despite severe mental impairment. Thanks, Congress!
The House and Senate voted to repeal a background check rule that screened out people who are receiving special Social Security benefits because mental problems made it impossible for them to work or even manage their own money. The National Rifle Association calls this “Obama’s unconstitutional gun grab.” Because, obviously, just because you can’t handle a Social Security check doesn’t mean you can’t handle an assault weapon.
▪ Clean water: Another repealed regulation prohibited coal companies from dumping their waste into streams. When he signed the bill, Trump claimed the change would save “many thousands of American jobs,” which is of course completely nuts, unless polluting the water is going to eliminate competition from natural gas. The federal estimate of lost jobs is about 260 per year.
▪ Free the oil and gas companies: Trump also signed a bill repealing a rule that publicly traded oil, gas and mining companies had to disclose payments they make to foreign governments.
Talk about keeping your campaign promises. The president vowed to get rid of useless regulations, and already he’s opened the road for dirty Appalachian water and oil companies bribing other governments. With mentally deranged gunmen waiting on his desk.
Gail Collins writes for The New York Times.