Thursday, February 16, 2017


By Dominique Paul Noth
Cartoonist Ribber Hansson's view from Sweden

The chaos president – or as a friend more impolitely calls him, the KKchaos president – has been careening around like a kid on an amusement park bumper car. 

In his off the cuff off the wall press conference Feb. 16 he denied any personal involvement in the Russian connection, described the unprecedented 82 months of job growth he inherited from Obama as “a mess,” and admitted there were “real leaks” in stories he called “fake news” – a remarkable contradiction.

Immediately after proclaiming his infallibility and that the press was out to get him, Trump through his lawyers asked the Ninth Court of Appeals to vacate its killing of his travel ban because he would soon rescind it with a new order. In other words, don’t stop me before I kill again because I’ll stop me on my own. 

The White House lurches on. TV comics love him. SNL is riding wicked high.  John Oliver can build his new HBO season around dissecting how Trump steals his ideas within minutes from the alt-right media.

“We are running out of adjectives to describe this behavior,” noted Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press.” The current parade of news anchors are heavily water-logged in their own clichés – “it's like drinking out of the fire hose,” “doused in a downpour,” “all the hydrants have been opened at once.”

The best water allusion should be a nonswimmer dog-paddling in the shallow end of the pool. 

Hasn’t anyone noticed how many of his executive orders are just nonsense? How the most damaging are blocked in court or doing anticipatory damage behind the scenes? Only now, weeks into his rein, is real damage emerging as opposed to feared damage.  Most of his two-dozen presidential resolutions so far hardly advance his campaign promises, but they eat up TV time.

Voters “take his words seriously but not literally” a fellow billionaire once explained. Usually that would require a doctorate in semiology to comprehend, but right now there is some clarity -- their hopes whatever they were and his words are both literally and seriously stalled. 

Few of Obama’s important orders have been affected.  Republicans now think unwinding Obamacare could take more than a year since Trump has to keep many beloved things about the Affordable Care Act and the political consequences of repealing without replacing are enormous. Remember how he promised “on the first day”?
Steven Sack in Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Undoing the Dodd-Frank law will take Congress months at least, and in nibbling around the edges Trump’s executive order has been charitably called vague in reality and long on promises. The first effect delays a regulation to make sure financial advisors are working in the best interest of the customer, not themselves or Wall Street.

The big beautiful border wall requires far more money and costly border staff than Congress is willing to consider, especially when border experts claim it is wrong-minded if not useless.

Even Trump voters did not expect the first results of his attacks on over-regulation would be, according to multiple reports, removing protection for a dying species of bumblebee, allowing toxic wastewater to be dumped directly into rivers and letting the mentally ill on Social Security buy and own guns (though technically the last originated in Congress).

His immigration order targeted citizens of seven mostly Muslim countries and all refugees traveling to the US. The courts immediately blocked this, first drawing Trump’s rage and then his acquiescence.  The rewrite is underway, tailored to address some of the court’s objections but without the haste Trump said was necessary to keep bad dudes out. Of course, he still has to solve how evidence including his own words says this was a Muslim ban.

Some of his bureaucrats, seeking to outguess their new master, are leaping in harder than he may have ordered or the law may intend. That could bring new lawsuits.

It’s hard to tell if ICE was ordered by Trump or is trying to please its new master, but the current wave of raids (in states including Wisconsin with ICE’s own agents guessing that a quarter to a third of those rounded up were not on the list of criminals) has become the fresh example of actual damage and genuine fear. Marches of protest have risen throughout the nation (the first involved thousands in Milwaukee).

Rather than running from the start as “a fine-tuned machine” as he claimed Feb. 16, his administration has been buffeted by self-imposed errors leading to the resignation (firing) of national security adviser Mike Flynn, the withdrawal of Hardee's czar Andrew Puzder from the labor secretary spot and the refusal from the vice admiral Trump wanted to replace Flynn.

Trump’s comparison of the slow-walk for his cabinet to the speed of Obama’s cabinet approvals is also largely nonsense. It just emphasizes the difference in quality.  While Obama offered world-class scientists with administrative skills to lead the Department of Energy, Trump trotted out Rick Perry – a separation in intellectual reputation that speaks for itself.

His cabinet is largely fawning former rivals or wealthy buddies, but even with several already in place, Trump is still asking his political staff to explain him in front of TV cameras.

The latest has been more associated with Goebbels than Trump. Stephen Miller,  the male Kellyanne  who has warmed up the crowds at Trump rallies and is now senior adviser, does  seems Gestapo  wired as he defends every word that drops from Trump’s lips.

Even if he gets his cabinet in place, it is hard to imagine Trump deferring to them – unless the spotlight shines so bright it burns.

Right now he relishes the spotlight and says millions of Americans enjoy him basking in it.  What they enjoyed were the promises he made – not all of them. His voters were actually selective, ignoring the outrageous while longing for the promised jobs and attention to neglected regions. He had voters who discounted his wildest behavior because they wanted a change.

But even they can’t go on for four years watching him dog-paddle at the shallow end of the pool.

About the author: Noth has been  a professional journalist since the 1960s, first as national, international and local news copy editor at The Milwaukee Journal, then as an editor for its original Green Sheet, also  for almost two decades the paper’s film and drama critic. He also created its Friday Weekend section and ran Sunday TV Screen magazine and Lively Arts as he became the newspaper’s senior feature editor. He was tapped by the publishers of the combining Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for special projects and as first online news producer before voluntarily departing in the mid-1990s to run online news seminars and write on public affairs and Internet and consumer news. From 2002 to 2013 he ran the Milwaukee Labor Press as editor. It served as the Midwest’s largest home-delivered labor newspaper, with archives at  In that role he won top awards yearly until the paper stopped publishing in 2013. His investigative pieces and extensive commentaries are now published by several news outlets as well as his culture and politics outlets known as Dom's Domain.  He also reviews theater for 

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