Every day since January 20th, I wake up and think I have a case of the delirium tremens, or the “DTs.”
In the words of the Irish song-writer Christy Moore,
“I dreamt a dream the other night, and I couldn’t sleep a wink, because the rat’s were trying to count the sheep and I was off the drink. There were footsteps in the parlor and voices on the stairs. I was climbing up the walls and moving’ round the chairs. I looked up from the blanket and up at the fireplace, and Donald Trump and Kellyane Conway were starring me in the face. Suddenly it dawned on me I was getting the old D.T.’s, when Mike Pence and Betsy DeVos were dancing on the mantlepiece.
Wait…. wait… wait…
The problem is I actually haven’t had a drink in the past ten days. I probably should have, and I planned to on Inauguration Day, but regardless, like many in America, I feel like I have a serious case of the D.T.’s. But the DTs I have a case of aren’t the delirium tremens (a serious case of the body reacting to the withdrawal of alcohol). I’ve got a bad case of the DTs, aka that feeling of nausea, disbelief, and illness from the actions and words of Donald Trump.
But the reality is nothing has been a dream. Oh, there have been nightmares, but everything has actually happened. We have had a president give an inaugural address (ghost-written by a neo-Nazi-alt-right chief strategist) who declared it would be AMERICA FIRST! From here on out. We have a president who thinks he is still on the campaign trail, and is so pre-occupied by his own popularity that he has repeated again and again about how large his inauguration crowd was, and then attacked the media – FAKE NEWS! – for reporting actual photos demonstrating that the crowds were about 1/3 the size of those of President Obama’s first inauguration. Given that he also went off in a primary debate about the size of his genitals, this should be no surprise. But it was an early sign that there were not normal times.
The first ten days had fifteen executive orders. Within hours of taking office, the executive branch was instructed to scale back on enforcement of the Affordable Care Act. Power had returned to the people, but those who are most vulnerable would be at risk of having their health care ripped away from them.
Twenty-four hours into the Trump bender, a half-million people, mostly women, ascended on Washington DC for the Women’s March. 600 parallel marches across the nation attracted almost 4 million people, voicing their opposition to the expected policies of the new administration. Trump initially ignored it, but he headed to the CIA to give his first address, aimed at improving relations with the nation’s primary intelligence gatherers. He spoke in front of the memorial wall that commemorates the 117 CIA operative who gave their lives in service of their country, and largely ignored where he was, and gave a campaign speech, focused on the size of his, ahem, inaugural crowd. There was laughter and applause — and later we learned the audience had been populated with Trump supporters.
This wasn’t enough though, as he ordered his press secretary to speak to the media, where he attacked then, and then lied about the inauguration crowd. Again. The president also banned the National Park Service from using twitter, in retaliation for tweeting side-by-side photos of the 2009 and 2017 inaugurations. Later in the week, numerous agencies would find their twitter privileges revoked. This resulted in at least fifteen government agencies going “rogue” with unofficial twitter accounts. Somehow park rangers were at the forefront of the resistance.
The next morning, Kellyanne Conway was challenged on NBC News about the president’s focus on the inaugural crowd, and uttered words I fear will be with us for the rest of his administration. They were not lies, they were alternative facts. Alternative facts???? It was then that I first realized we were in trouble. This was straight out of George Orwell’s 1984.
Monday (Day 4) started when the president revoked the Trans Pacific Partnership, instituted a federal agency hiring freeze, and re-imposed an old federal policy that forbade the use of federal funds for abortion. Given the rest of the week, it was a quiet day.
The bender was in full-swing by Tuesday (Day 5), when the president announced that we would move forward in construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. The environment — and Native American sacred lands be damned! But that wasn’t enough. He tweeted his congratulations to Fox News for its ratings in the inauguration coverage and once again called CNN “FAKE NEWS.” Then, the president went to twitter to threaten martial law in Chicago if it didn’t get the “carnage” of gun violence under control. Bring in the Feds. Delegitimize the media and threaten martial law. This is stuff you see in a dystopian novel, not the real world.
Wednesday proved that these dystopian fears were true. Trump has been so bothered by losing the popular vote by 2.9 million that he has repeated – and his press secretary has repeated – the lie — excuse me, the alternative fact – of massive voter fraud. The president announced a major investigation of voter fraud (including dead people voting) in the 216 election. Even though the only FRAUD that has any evidence behind it — is the role of the Russian government’s interference in the election. And that several of his closest advisors – including one of his kids – were registered to vote in two states.
But Wednesday wasn’t over. Trump had just begun. He was going to follow through on another major campaign promise. The Wall. He was going to build a wall along the entire Mexican border — And Mexico was going to pay for it. Wait, Mexico says, the hell we will. Ok, we’ll make them pay somehow. He ends the night with a surreal interview on ABC News, in which he remained focused on himself, and his popularity. And there were more alternative facts.
It was probably not surprising that on Amazon.com, George Orwell’s 1984 had soared to the #1 position on the Amazon best-sellers list. A 1949 dystopian novel about re-writing the news, erasing facts, and doublespeak, was the number one selling book in America. Seems legit.
On Thursday, Trump threatened to impose a 20 percent import tax on all goods coming from Mexico. He attacked the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA) and promised to end it. But there was more. The Nazi-in-chief-strategiest described the Media as “the opposition.” And then the top four career diplomats announced they were resigning from the State Department. There were alternate facts though, as the administration reported they were asked to leave and did not voluntarily resign.
The president announced his immigration ban on Muslims. He would impose a ban on all immigrants and refugees from 7 Muslim countries in the Middle East, promising to protect us against terrorism. There would be extreme vetting. The president suspended the entire resettlement (refugee) policy for 120 days, and indefinitely banned the arrival of Syrian refugees. WHAT? Syria was where the greatest refugee crisis in the world had been transpiring. Syrian refugees were trying to escape the civil war, the oppressive regime of Asaad, AND ISIS. But they are out. And no longer welcome. Oh, the president would cut the total refugees permitted in the US by sixty percent. We might as well tear down the Statue of Liberty.
The President did something even more frightening. He demonstrated his “extreme” islamaphobia, and announced that Christians would be given priority over individuals of other religions. There would be a religious test for entry into the United States. And sadly, many “Christians” applauded. Thankfully many were horrified by it.
Saturday marked the 9th day of the Trump administration. It was a week since the Women’s March – a coordinated, organized protest in the works since November 9th. This Saturday the protests were spontaneous, beginning at JFK International Airport when the first international flights arrived, and the Customs and Border Patrol began detaining, and turning back individuals seeking entry into the U.S. Many were not even allowed to board flights for the U.S. People with green cards were detained; people with visas found their visa’s revoked. The vast majority of these people were not refugees. Similar stories began emerging from every international airport — Chicago O’Hare, San Francisco International, Dallas-Fort Worth, Atlanta, and Seattle. Lawyers began arriving, filing emergency petitions for writs of habeas corpus for individuals being detained. Protestors began to swarm airports. Thousands of people in Chicago headed to the airport, practically shutting down Terminal 5. New York City taxi drivers announced a one hour boycott of picking up travelers at JFK, acting in solidarity against the new policy. Democracy was in the street. A Federal judge ultimately issued a temporary stay on the imposition of the new policy.
The day was not over. Late Saturday evening, the president issued a directive adding Steve Bannon, his alt-right-white-supremacist-neo-Nazi chief advisor to the National Security Council. WHAT? WHAT? There was more. The Director of National Intelligence, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff (the top generals and admirals of each branch of the military) would no longer be official permanent members of the NSC, but would only attend when it was relevant. I don’t even know what to say about this.
Yeah, the last ten days has been a bender for the ages. But this isn’t a joke. Hell, I haven’t captured half of the insanity that has been the last ten days. I am, however, committed to writing, to protesting, to speak truth to power.
There is a lot of work to do. And intense pressure has to be put on the House and Senate GOP to stand up to the new “leader.” We can not allow him to re-write facts, to “gaslight” us into questioning reality and accepting the leader’s new reality.
I’ll end with a bit more from Christy Moore.
I dreamt I was in ecstasy in Heaven, and in agony in Hell. I was bored in Limbo and then I was in Purgatory as well. And there was original sins and venial sins and mortal sins by the score. So I tied barbed wire around my underpants and flagellated myself on the floor. Then I dreamt I was in the confessional box and auld Bishop said to me: ‘Any impure thoughts my chid? ‘‘Yeah,t he fu#$n barbed wire was killin’ me.
Well, folks, we definitely have a case of the DT’s (or the DJT’s), but barbed wire won’t fix it. Day 11 begins tomorrow. Keep the pressure on. There is work to do. The Constitution needs us. Donate to the ACLU, participate in a march. Call your representatives and senators. Reach out to the local Muslim community and say You are welcome here.
And if you need a drink, by all means, have one.