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Trumped up

By Nickunj Malik - Feb 15,2017 - Last updated at Feb 15,2017

I don’t know about you, but I seem to find no way to trump down my news-watching these days. I have become addicted to the various American news channels and switch between them rather frequently. Following what the 45th President of the United States might do next keeps me glued to the television screen.

One of the first ways a new president is able to exercise political power, in America, is through unilateral executive orders. While legislative efforts take time, a swipe of the pen from the White House can often enact broad changes in government policy and practice. And President Donald Trump has wasted little time in swiping a pen, so to speak, and putting his exclusive scribbly signature onto the documents that define his directives.

The most controversial one was the blanket move that banned citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for the next 90 days and suspended the admission of all refugees for 120 days. The implications of this travel ban reverberated worldwide, as chaos and confusion rippled through US airports and American law enforcement agencies tried to grasp Washington’s new policy.

Oblivious to the devastation it caused, Trump said the government was “totally prepared” for the ban. “You see it at the airports. You see it all over. It’s working out very nicely and we’re going to have a very, very strict ban,” he told reporters. I watched his facial expressions closely when he made this statement, looking for some sign of uncertainty. There was none. He actually believed what he was saying!

Soon, this executive order was halted by Seattle-based US District Court Judge James Robart, who issued a temporary restraining order blocking Trump’s order nationwide after the states of Washington and Minnesota sued. Deriding the ruling, Trump took to the social networking site and tweeted: “The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!” But a federal appeals three-judge panel unanimously rejected his bid to reinstate the travel ban, suggesting that it showed no evidence that anyone from the seven nations — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen — had committed terrorist acts in the United States. Within minutes of the verdict, Mr Trump angrily vowed to fight it, presumably in an appeal to the Supreme Court. “See you in court, the security of our nation is at stake!” Trump wrote on Twitter in capital letters. 

Now, if such high drama is taking place in front of your very eyes, though via the idiot box I must confess, who can pull themselves away? 

Meanwhile, a story in the New York Times reported that “President Trump’s aides conferred in the dark because they could not figure out how to operate the light switches in the Cabinet room of the White House”. Ajit, a famous character-actor of Indian movies, usually played the role of a villain, and always told his assistant — who delivered the stolen diamonds or gold biscuits — to switch the lights of his car “on and off” as a secret code. The smuggler receiving the loot was to signal back, by switching the headlights of his vehicle “off and on”.

“Conferred in the dark? How?” I asked my husband. 

“They must have carried a lighter,” he answered. 

“Aha! Used coded messages?” I exclaimed. 

“Ajit style on-off, on-off, for yes,” I continued. 

“What?” he sounded confused. 

 

“And off-on, off-on, for no,” I concluded.

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Comments

This is a classic example of spreading lies and subsequently acting on them firmly with executive orders. I remember one such case was weapons of mass destruction few decades ago. It’s not healthy for the world in general when few elected or selected leaders move to an autocratic style of function. We are witnessing the kind of lies that authoritarians use as a way to test loyalty and force their subjects into submission “off and on”! Wonderful read, Nickunj M.

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