Tag Archives: Turns

How Trump turns deadly tragedies into political opportunities

Since Donald Trump took office in January of 2017, it has been a year of disasters. Three massive hurricanes ravaged the Gulf Coast and the Caribbean. Mass shootings at a concert in Las Vegas and a church in Texas were among the deadliest in modern American history. Terrorist attacks around the world killed thousands. School shootings, naval ship crashes, white nationalist violence, wildfires, police killed in the line of duty, and innocent and unarmed people killed by police all cost lives here and abroad in the first year of the presidency. So how did a new president respond? 

With Twitter, Trump’s chosen outlet for his response to the events each day. His Twitter timeline tells the story of the first 12-plus months of the Donald Trump era. As these calamities unfolded — some acts of nature and other acts of humanity — some drew Trump’s attention. Others he ignored totally. Some received a great deal of his immediate attention, ranging as high as 40-plus tweets about Hurricanes Harvey and Maria. Some served as little more than convenient pretext for a one-off tweet to smear critics and promote his Islamophobic and xenophobic worldview. In all, a ThinkProgress review of his feed from his inauguration to February 6, 2018 finds that 244 of his 2,632 tweets and retweets (including a few he later deleted, accessed via trumptwitterarchive.com) were responses of some kind to tragic event that happened on his watch. In more than 75 of those, the president overtly sought to politicize and exploit the tragedy for political gain.

Crediit: Diana Ofosu

Some patterns emerged.

Trump uses tragedy to convince the public to ban Muslims

At least fourteen of the tragedies Trump highlighted through his tweets involved attacks by people apparently acting on behalf of ISIS, the Taliban, or others he termed “Radical Islamic Terrorists.” Incidents in cities like Barcelona, Kabul, London, Paris, and New York were met with at least 62 Trump tweets — 29 of them pushing Trump’s political talking points.

Most were messages tying the attacks to Islam, denouncing “political correctness,” and claiming the attacks were examples of why his Muslim travel ban is necessary.

As a candidate, Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what’s going in,” but courts have determined the travel ban is intended to discriminate, rather than make the country safer.

Trump uses tragedy to say immigrants are dangerous

Perhaps an even bigger priority for Trump than his Islamophobic policies are his xenophobic policies, especially his dream of a “big, beautiful wall” at the southern border — a project he insisted over and over would be paid for by Mexico but now seeks $18 billion in U.S. taxpayer funds to built. While candidate Trump talked mostly about ending illegal immigration, President Trump has also proposed to end many of the ways people legally immigrate to the United States.

After the October 31, 2017 truck attack in New York City by an immigrant from Uzbekistan, Trump pounced with a string of anti-immigrant tweets. He used the deaths to call for the elimination of both the diversity lottery and the rules that allow preference to immediate family members of immigrants (which Trump misleadingly dismisses as “chain migration”).

Early Sunday morning, NFL linebacker Edwin Jackson was killed by a drunk driver. Only after police revealed that the driver was an undocumented immigrant — two days later — did Trump tweet out his condolences and spotlight his death as one of “many such preventable tragedies” that would stop if only the Democratic minority in Congress would “get tough on the Border [sic].”

Trump thinks Chicago is a violent wasteland

Perhaps because it was the hometown of his predecessor — or maybe because protesters stopped his 2016 campaign from taking place there — but Trump has repeatedly attempted to portray Chicago as the most violent city imaginable.

Although his inaugural address promised that “American carnage” in violent inner-cities like the Windy City “stops right here and stops right now,” there were still 650 murders — some of them among the 2,785 recorded shooting incidents — there in the first year of Trump’s presidency (less than a 16-percent decline from 2016).

While Trump has done virtually nothing to actually reduce gun violence, he did repeatedly highlight homicides in Chicago and threaten some sort of federal takeover of law enforcement there.

In August, after coming under fire for his response to white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, Trump retweeted a tweet from a supporter with white nationalist ties, demanding to know why the national media was not paying as much attention to the shootings going on in Chicago over the same weekend.

Trump blames Puerto Rico for a poor hurricane recovery

In September, Hurricane Maria ravaged the Caribbean, causing historic damages to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, American territories that are home to millions of U.S. citizens. More than four months later, huge swaths of Puerto Rico remain without electrical power and running water. The administration’s insufficient response to the storm drew bipartisan criticism and has been labeled “Trump’s Katrina.”

While Trump devoted more tweets (at least 48) to Hurricane Maria than any other single tragedy of his presidency to date, more than a third of them were used to push his political message. Trump quickly pivoted from messages like “we are with you,” to trying to deflect any blame, proclaiming that Puerto Rico was a mess before the storm. Rather than express empathy with Americans killed, or struggling to survive without food or water, much of Trump’s message was, essentially, “it’s their own fault.”

This continued for weeks after the storm hit, including an October claim that “the wonderful people of Puerto Rico, with their unmatched spirit, know how bad things were before the [hurricanes].” 

Trump uses tragedy to malign the media

Another frequent refrain from Trump, especially after he took a pounding for his tone-deaf handling of Puerto Rico and Charlottesville, was to lash out at the media for being unfair to him. Trump, who has frequently used Twitter to attack the “fake news” provided by news outlets other than Fox News, seemed especially irked that these outlets accurately reported on his response to these disasters.

Over and over, he complained of the media’s coverage of Puerto Rico:

He did the same with Charlottesville, calling the American press “dishonest” and “truly bad people”:

In all, at least 13 of Trump’s tweets about Charlottesville and Maria were dedicated to attacks on journalists.

Trump uses tragedy to enthusiastically smears his critics

Trump’s disdain for critics goes beyond just the media. He also repeatedly used tragedies tweeted out criticism of other politicians as part of his response to tragedies.

After the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico criticized the Trump administration’s hurricane response, he went after her personally:

When a fellow Republican, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, criticized his botched Charlottesville response, Trump blasted him as “publicity seeking” and implied it would cost Graham his senate seat:

After a deadly attack in London, Mayor Sadiq Khan — who is Muslim and has previously criticized Trump’s divisive and Islamophobic actions — urged his city not to be alarmed by the heightened presence of police. Trump seized on this, out of context, to accuse Khan of not taking the violent attacks seriously:

Though fact-checkers debunked Trump’s false assertion, he repeated his attack on London’s mayor and threw in a smear of the media for good measure:

Trump also attempted to blame the New York truck attack on Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), citing something he heard while watching Fox News:

Even private citizens were not immune. He went after Myeshia Johnson, the grieving widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed in a U.S. military operation Niger in October. She had revealed that Trump told her in a condolence call that her husband “knew what he signed up for,” and she said the president struggled to even remember his name. In return, Trump essentially called her a liar on Twitter.

Trump thinks law enforcement is great, but pays no attention to police officer-involved shootings

One of the themes of Donald Trump’s 2016 Republican National Convention speech was that he was the candidate who supports law enforcement. “The attacks on our police, and the terrorism in our cities, threaten our very way of life. Any politician who does not grasp this danger is not fit to lead our country,” he told the audience.

In August, after white nationalist rallies in Charlottesville turned violent and Heather Heyer was killed by a Nazi sympathizer, Trump responded with a tweet sending “condolences to the family,” but he later expressed sympathies for white nationalists at the event.

But when later that day, two Virginia State Police officers were killed in a helicopter crash while participating in surveillance of the Charlottesville rallies, Trump responded with a retweet of a Secret Service tweet sending “thoughts & prayers” and with a tweet of his own sending “[d]eepest condolences” and praising the officers as “all among the best this nation produces.”

He similarly offered quick condolences after a Colorado sheriff’s deputy was killed in a New Year’s Eve mass shooting, saying, “We love our police and law enforcement – God Bless them all!”

More than a dozen of Trump’s tweets in response to tragedies have highlighted his appreciation for American law enforcement and denouncing “anti-police agitators.”

But the president did not respond at all to the more than 1,000 people fatally shot by police officers since his inauguration — even when those killed were unarmed. For example, when Kansas police shot and killed an unarmed innocent man after a fake 911 call by online gamers, Trump ignored the tragedy and instead tweeted about how unfair it is that Amazon.com is able to use the postal service to ship products at an affordable rate, how Fox & Friends proves that his approval ratings are equal to where Obama’s eight years earlier, and how climate change must be a hoax because it was cold that day

Trump ignored national and international tragedies unless they could score him political points

Those police shootings were not the only tragedies that Trump just simply ignored. A ThinkProgress review of multiple other databases based on publicly available information found dozens of fatal attacks, at home and abroad, that neither fit Trump’s political narrative nor received even a single tweet’s response from the president.

At least eight mass-casualty attacks in places like Afghanistan, Lebanon, Somalia, and Syria were responsible for more than 100 deaths each — mostly of Muslims. Trump met each with Twitter silence.

The Gun Violence Archive documents seven mass shootings since April in the United States that resulted in five or more deaths, but received no Trump response. But Trump did notice after the June attacks on the London Bridge that that particular attack did not involve guns:

And while none has received the attention that Columbine and Sandy Hook received, the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund has documented more than 75 school shootings in the United States since Trump took office. Three dozen of these were intentional attacks that resulted in the injury or death of another person. Trump responded to just two of these via Twitter.

After a January 2018 school shooting in Kentucky left 18 students injured and two more dead, Trump did not initially let the tragedy distract from his tweets smearing FBI agents and demanding a border wall. Only a day after the Prime Minister of Canada tweeted his condolences did Trump finally follow his lead.

The one other school shooting that seemed to received Trump’s attention was a November shooting at the Rancho Tehama Elementary School in northern California. Trump literally reused his tweet from a different tragedy nine days earlier (in Sutherland Springs, Texas), tweeting “May God be with the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas. The FBI and Law Enforcement has arrived.”

The next morning, Trump (apparently realizing his error), deleted the tweet — and did not replace it. The shooter, after all, was a white man who should not have had access to a gun, making it incongruent with any of the president’s political messages.


MSNBC’s Ari Melber Turns Hypocrite Trump’s Own Words Against Him On National Security

MSNBC’s Ari Melber took clips of Trump saying that Hillary Clinton couldn’t be trusted with classified information and contrasted that with the hypocrisy of an administration where nearly four dozen people lack the security clearances that they need to be handling classified intelligence. Video: Ari Melber takes down some Trump hypocrisy on handling classified information. […]

The post MSNBC’s Ari Melber Turns Hypocrite Trump’s Own Words Against Him On National Security appeared first on Politicus USA.

Turns Out That UN Vote Against The US On Jerusalem Cost Nations Nothing

UN Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / AFP / Getty Images

Donald Trump swore in December to withhold “billions” of dollars of US aid from countries that supported a United Nations resolution condemning the administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“Let them vote against us,” he said. “We’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”

On Monday the Trump administration made public its proposed 2019 budget, and here's the news: not a single country lost funding on the basis of voting against the US at the UN.

In fact, the budget specifically carves out money for many of the countries that voted against the US in the UN General Assembly, such as Zimbabwe, Somalia and Nigeria.

“If you look at our budget it is focused on where we think the most appropriate assistance level should be based on where our security needs are,” Hari Sastry, the director of the Office of US Foreign Assistance Resources, told reporters at the State Department.

When pressed about whether any assistance was cut due to the vote at the UN, Sastry said “there’s nothing specific just tied to that because that is only one factor.”

Trump’s apparent lack of interest in following through on his own threat could cause foreign powers to doubt his sincerity when issuing ultimatums in the future, and the same goes for his ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley.

In the run up to the December vote, Haley warned that she would be “taking names” of the nearly 200 member states voting on the resolution addressing Trump’s move to upend US policy.

“As you consider your vote, I want you to know that the president and US take this vote personally.” she said. “The president will be watching this vote carefully and has requested I report back on those countries who voted against us.”

Only nine countries voted with the US, while 128 voted against it. iAnd yet, the budget proposal specifically requests hundreds of millions of dollars for countries that voted against the US, including Nigeria, to support democratic governance and agriculture sector productivity, Somalia, to support “critical state-building processes” and “reduce corruption,” and Zimbabwe, for “promoting good governance” and “respect for human rights.”

Still, advocates of foreign aid aren’t breathing a sigh of relief.

The proposal allocates $41.17 billion for the International Affairs Budget, a bucket that includes the State Department and the US Agency for International Development. Advocates say that request amounts to a 30 percent cut to foreign assistance.

“That’s where our heads at. Not an overt mention of the UN vote,” said Christy Delafield, a spokeswoman for Mercy Corps, a global humanitarian aid agency.

In any event, the main battle for funding will reside in the halls of Congress which will merely view the Trump budget as a political messaging document rather than the outlines of an action plan.

Trump acknowledged Congress’s authority over the purse in his State of the Union speech, when he asked lawmakers to pass legislation limiting US aid to America’s “friends.”

But just like last year, Congress is already showing a desire to forge a budget that bears little resemblance to his request.

“A strong, bipartisan coalition in Congress has already acted once to stop deep cuts to the State Department and Agency for International Development that would have undermined our national security. This year, we will act again,” Republican Rep. Ed Royce, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement.

Rep. Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the committee, promised that the proposal was “dead on arrival.”

Jennifer Aniston Turns 49! Inside Her Married Life with Justin Theroux

Jennifer Aniston sure does have a lot of reasons to celebrate.

The actress rings in her 49th birthday on Sunday, just days ahead of celebrating Valentine’s Day with husband Justin Theroux.

The occasion marks another busy year for the couple — Aniston recently signed on with Reese Witherspoon for a new Apple TV series, while Theroux filmed the comedy The Spy Who Dumped Me in Budapest.

“They have figured out a life that works for them,” a source previously told PEOPLE of the couple that married in 2015. “Jennifer’s life with Justin is great.”

A second source said the distance helps them appreciate the time they do have together even more.

“This has not hurt their marriage at all, it seems to help,” an entertainment source previously told PEOPLE. “They love and respect each other and do spend a lot of time apart. For them, it is a healthy part of their romance.”

Added the first source: “By not spending every minute together, it’s like their honeymoon is lasting longer.”

But when they aren’t working, Aniston and Theroux, 46, enjoy a quiet life at the Los Angeles home, which they designed together.

“There was a time when I thought there was something romantic about picking up and trotting off somewhere different every three months. Now I’m becoming more particular about the projects I take,” Aniston told Architectural Digest. “I look around at my husband and my dogs and our home, and there’s nowhere else I want to be.”

Chloe Grace Moretz Turns 21! See How She Celebrated with Boyfriend Brooklyn Beckham

Chloe Grace Moretz turns 21 today!

The actress celebrated her milestone birthday with cake, selfies and famous friends — including her boyfriend, Brooklyn Beckham.

The Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising star recently rang in the occasion at Beauty & Essex Los Angeles in a private dining area decorated with Earthbaby Flowers and balloons bearing the actress’s name.

Moretz, wearing an Asian-inspired dress with feathered sleeves and sequins, took selfies with her boyfriend, 18, who dressed up in pinstriped pants, a white button-down and suspenders. She was also spotted hand feeding Beckham a piece of her four-tired pillow designed cake.

Her closest friends, including Before I Fall‘s Zoey Deutsch, Dope star Kiersey Clemons, American Honey’s Sasha Lane and actress-singer Kathryn Gallagher joined in on the celebration. 

A pregnant Tia Mowrey and her husband Cory Hardict, whose second child is due in April, were also in attendance, as well as her friend, Stranger Things actor Joe Keery, who looked cozy with his girlfriend Maika Monroe.

Although Moretz and Beckham have officially reunited, in an interview with Australian lifestyle magazine Stellar, Moretz revealed that she struggled after the couple split in September 2016.

“I went through a hard year and I’m not going to hide that,” the actress said. “I had to deal with this new level of fame while I was growing up, I was getting out of a relationship and all of it was very public. I wanted to hide.”

RELATED: Brooklyn Beckham and Chloe Grace Moretz Reportedly Giving Love Another Chance

PEOPLE confirmed in August that Beckham and Moretz were “hanging out” again and in September, the couple made things official after stepping out together wearing coordinating denim looks.

Moretz later told PEOPLE that their short time apart only strengthened their relationship. “I think we chose each other. I think we really understand each other,” she told reporters. “It’s been years now, off and on, and it’s just one of those things where you come back and it’s like no time was spent away from each other at all and that’s the most important thing.”

Amazon launches a Polly WordPress plugin that turns blog posts into audio, including podcasts

 Amazon today is launching a new Amazon Polly WordPress plugin that gives your blog a voice by creating audio versions of your posts. The resulting audio can be played from within the blog post itself, or accessed in podcast form using a feature called Amazon Pollycast, the company says. The plugin itself was jointly designed by Amazon’s AWS team and managed WordPress platform… Read More

Mike Pence Publicly Responds After Gay Figure Skater Adam Rippon Reportedly Turns Down Meeting

Adam Rippon, openly gay figure skating champion, reportedly turned down an offer to meet with Mike Pence hours after lambasting him for his position on LGBT rights — prompting the vice president to publicly respond.

According to a report published by USA Today on Wednesday, a member of Pence’s staff reached out to the U.S. Olympic Committee to set up a conversation between the 58-year-old politician and the 28-year-old athlete back in January.

The alleged request came the same day USA Today published an interview with Rippon in which he said he wanted to skip the standard meet-and-greet event between Team USA athletes and the American delegation, which is being led by Pence for this year’s opening ceremony.

“You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy?” Rippon, who publicly came out as gay in 2015, said in the Jan. 17 piece. “I’m not buying it.”

Jarrod Agen, the vice president’s deputy chief of staff and communications director, refuted that a meeting was requested in a statement given to PEOPLE.

“The USA Today report is false and should be corrected. The vice president’s office did not reach out to set up a conversation with Mr. Rippon,” Agen said. “As we’ve said before, the Vice President is supporting all the U.S. athletes in the Olympics and is hoping they all win medals. But this story is just not accurate.”

Rippon’s rep declined to comment to PEOPLE on the USA Today report, as did USOC officials.

In a statement to PEOPLE back in January, Pence’s press secretary, Alyssa Farah, said that the vice president does not and has never supported conversion therapy. “The accusation is totally false with no basis in fact,” Farah said.

“Despite these misinformed claims , the vice president will be enthusiastically supporting all the U.S. athletes competing next month in Pyeongchang,” Farrah said.

But LGBT advocates have pointed to a 2000 statement on Pence’s congressional campaign website where he noted that Congress should reauthorize a law funding HIV/AIDS treatment but “resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”

Beyond the issue of gay conversion therapy, Pence — a self-described religious conservative — has taken multiple anti-LGBT positions over the years.

“If it were before my event, I would absolutely not go out of my way to meet somebody who I felt has gone out of their way to not only show that they aren’t a friend of a gay person but that they think that they’re sick,” Rippon told USA Today. “I wouldn’t go out of my way to meet somebody like that.”

Pence also responded, himself, to USA Today‘s latest report on Wednesday, taking a cue from President Donald Trump’s playbook and calling their claims “fake news.”

“Headed to the Olympics to cheer on #TeamUSA,” he tweeted. “One reporter trying to distort 18 yr old non-story to sow seeds of division. We won’t let that happen! #FAKENEWS. Our athletes are the best in the world and we are for ALL of them! #TEAMUSA”

He also wrote to Rippon directly on Twitter, saying, “I want you to know we are FOR YOU. Don’t let fake news distract you. I am proud of you and ALL OF OUR GREAT athletes and my only hope for you and all of #TeamUSA is to bring home the gold. Go get ‘em!”

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In his original conversation with USA Today, Rippon said he would be open to meeting with Pence after the Olympic games.

“If I had the chance to meet him afterwards, after I’m finished competing, there might be a possibility to have an open conversation,” Rippon said. “He seems more mild-mannered than Donald Trump. … But I don’t think the current administration represents the values that I was taught growing up. Mike Pence doesn’t stand for anything that I really believe in.”

RELATED VIDEO: PEOPLE Writer Natasha Stoynoff Breaks Silence, Accuses Donald Trump of Sexual Attack

Rippon stood by his views when speaking to PEOPLE.

“I just don’t think that’s right,” he said, “and I think there are so many people who also don’t think that’s right and I think right now more than ever I have this window of time to say what I feel and hopefully make a change.”

“My mom has always taught me to stand up for people who don’t have a voice,” Rippon added. “Sharing my story in 2015, I remember thinking if just one person hears this and reads it and it makes them feel like they aren’t alone, that would be awesome. Now to be headed to the Olympics, my story now has a bigger platform and I’ve heard from so many different kinds of people.”

He continued: “It’s so amazing and it makes me feel like coming out — it was way more important than I even realized.”

The 2018 Winter Olympics will air live starting Feb. 8 on NBC. To learn more, visit teamusa.org.